I'm thrilled to have the Rose Blog Tour stopping by Word Spelunking today! Below you can read my review of this magical and charming middle-grade book and a fun interview with its author Holly Webb...
Author: Holly Webb
Pub Date: 9/3/13
Rose isn't like the other orphans at St Bridget's Home for Abandoned Girls. Instead of dreaming of getting adopted by loving, wealthy parents, Rose wants to get a job and be independent. She doesn't need anyone but herself. She finds her escape working as a maid for Mr. Fountain, an alchemist. Unable to ignore the magic that flows throughout the grand residence, Rose realizes that just maybe; she might have a little bit of magic in her too. This new series featuring magicians, witches, talking cats, mist-monsters, and friendships will have young readers in a trance!
Holly Webb’s Rose (Rose #1) is a fun middle-grade read that enchanted and charmed me. Set in an alternate Victorian England where magic is real and those who have it are called alchemists and have great power and wealth, this story is all about one very special orphan. Ten year old Rose doesn’t dream of being whisked away from the orphanage by a new family. She wants nothing more than to find a job and make her own way in life, and she gets the chance when she’s hired as a maid in the grand home of the famous alchemist Mr. Fountain. Here Rose finds a surrogate family of sorts, a house brimming with magic, and unexpected friendships. And when children all over the city start to go missing, Rose and her new friends, and her maybe magical powers, must save them.
There is so much to like about Rose: its endearing characters, captivating settings, and magic filled plot. Holly Webb is a wonderful storyteller and has crafted a story that is bursting with whimsy, excitement, humor, and heart, and she’s captured that sparkling pitch-perfect middle-grade voice. The only thing that I found a bit annoying about the writing, is an overabundance of unnecessary adverbs; but other than that, the writing is excellent. The world-building is rich in details, vivid, and layered. The Victorian England in Rose is both familiar yet intriguingly new with the addition of magic that is widely known about and revered. The grand Fountain house reminds me of Hogwarts (on a much smaller scale), in that it’s overflowing with magic, unexpected sounds; sights; and smells, and oddly behaving objects, and every turn of a doorknob leaves you in excited anticipation, never knowing what you’ll find. I do, however, wish that this magical abode was explored further and I’m hoping we see even more of it in future books.
Webb’s characters are all charming and likable in their own ways. Rose is a fantastic middle-grade heroine with a lot spunk, smarts, and sass. She’s super relatable and easy to root for. The Fountain household is comprised of an eclectic and entertaining bunch. The other servants really become a new family for Rose, while Freddie (Mr. Fountain’s young apprentice) and Isabelle (his little girl) become unexpected friends for Rose. We don’t get to know Mr. Fountain too well in this first book, but there’s something very delightful and admirable in his pleasant, fun-loving demeanor. And of course, there’s Gus, the clever, posh talking cat (love him!).
The magical elements (talking cats, mist-monsters, witches, and spells, oh my!) are super fun and both fantastically whimsical and thrillingly dark. I look forward to exploring the magical aspects of this world even more in future books.
WS: What three words best describe your book Rose?
HW: Mysterious. Funny (hopefully, and that isn't one of my three!). Magical.
WS: Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers (especially reluctant readers) to give Rose a try?
HW: Rose has a new home and a new life - but will the magic steal it all away?
WS: Grab a copy of Rose and answer the following:
HW: Chapter three - Rose's first introduction to her new home, and the strange magic inside it.
HW: p43 - the first introduction to my favourite character...
HW: I have to split this - Rose is my favourite, but actually, the funnest person in the book to write is Gus, the fat, white, magician's cat.
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser:
HW: Little pillow-shaped sweets in glorious stripes - pink and white, green and gold, purple and red. They looked like something from a fairy tale. Rose could imagine a princess's bed piled with them.
WS: Close your eyes, imagine your dream library, and answer the following:
My dream library is located in___
HW: the same road as my house.
The first thing you notice about my dream library is___
HW: that there are lot of very comfy armchairs for reading in.
Outside my dream library's window I see___
HW: the sea.
The most unique/special thing about my dream library is___
HW: that everyone there loves books.
My dream library is called___
HW: The Everlasting Library - lots of areas in
where I live, are finding it hard to afford libraries, and schools find it
difficult too. I hate the thought of libraries being closed. England
WS: Fill in the blanks:
I'm really awesome at___
HW: making chocolate brownies.
I'm really embarrassed to admit that___
HW: that I'm terrified of spiders. Lots of characters in my books are too, including Rose.
The last great book I read was___
HW: We Need to Talk About Kevin. But it was terribly sad.
WS: If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by Rose what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
HW: Oooh, it would be a cupcake inspired by Rose's first ever sweets, the chocolate satins in the random quote I picked above. A red velvet cupcake, as the Victorian house she lives in is full of velvet curtains and sofas, with glittering, magical icing, and piled up with chocolate satins... But Gus would probably get to it before anyone else got a chance to taste! A Chocolate Satin Surprise, maybe? Do you have chocolate satins in the
? I hope so! US
Thanks so much, Holly, for taking the time to answer my questions! That cupcake sounds super yummy!!
Holly was born and grew up in south-east London, but spent a lot of time on the Suffolk coast. As a child, she had two dogs, a cat, and at one point, nine gerbils (an accident). At about ten, Holly fell in love with stories from Ancient Greek myths, which led to studying Latin and Greek, and eventually to reading Classics at university. She worked for five years as a children's fiction editor, before deciding that writing was more fun, and easier to do from a sofa. Now living in Reading with her husband, three sons and one cat, Holly runs a Guide unit. The Rose books stem from a childhood love of historical novels, and the wish that animals really could talk.