Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Review [Veiled Rose]

Veiled Rose
Tales of Goldstone Wood #2
Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Publisher:  Bethany House
Genre:  YA
Released:  2011
Christian

[Goodreads]
A Monster Prowls the Mountains of Southlands

      Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely. 
      Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands. 
      But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find? 
      Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

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Warning:  Possible Spoilers

Oh dear.  I am so behind in these reviews!  My list to do seems to get longer and longer. . . I just received my copy of Captives by Jill Williamson yesterday!  I've been dying to read this one!  And Moonblood is also waiting patiently for me to pick it up. . . Then I have a manuscript of Lauriloth's that's been "picking up dust" in my computer files--don't get me wrong, I love what I've read of her book so far! But splitting my computer time in half to read it along with my others. . . I just kinda feel overwhelmed at the moment.  (So sorry, Lauri!  Believe me, I will get it done!!  I LOVE what I've read so far! =] )

On to the review.  Similar to the first of the series, I loved the second addition to the Tales of Goldstone Wood.  Anne Stengl's writing style is brilliantly fresh and descriptive, her characters relate-able, and the story intriguing.

[The Basics]
Veiled Rose centers on a young prince, whom we caught a small glimpse of in Heartless.  In the first book, Leo, as he was called, was exiled from his home kingdom at the arrival of a Dragon.  In shame and disgrace, he journeyed in the guise of a court jester--something he has always wished to be--in hopes of finding some way to free his kingdom of the Dragon's smoky chains.

In this book, we delve deeper into his childhood, learn more of his personality and character, and come to understand why he does what he does.  His summers are spent away from home, this time at the ample mansion of his pompous aunt and prickly, book-nerd cousin, Foxbrush.  Hill House.  Located in the Mountains, said to be haunted by a Monster.  Well, what is a little boy to do when there is talk of a monster in the woods by the house?  He finds it his duty to hunt and kill it, right?  And that is just what he sets out to do.  With the advice of an old gardener, Leo sets off into the unknown, a trusty beanpole in hand and naught but his courage.

But it isn't a monster he finds.  He meets a girl.  And her goat.  Albeit a strange and mysterious girl, who wears veils that cover her entire body, not even her face is visible.  Rose Red is her name, and the two become unlikely friends.  She hides a terrible secret.

[Spiritual Content]
As mentioned in the previous book, the Dragon represents all evil.  It is his duty to make chosen characters his children.  One part I found quite bizarre and confusing is with the Dragon and the Lady.  Brother and sister, they play a game for the "souls" of the characters.  In this case, where the Dragon won with Una, he lost with Leo (or Lionheart, as is his true name) to his sister, the Lady.  She, in the victory, plagues Leo's dreams throughout the whole of the book, promising that whatever he wishes she will provide.  Which might be true, it is purely up to Leo to decide what exactly it is he desires--whether he will succeed his father as king, a heavy burden, or do what he truly enjoys, travel as a jester, make others laugh.

Rose Red, however, struggles with the Dragon in her own dreams, for it was he who won her in the game between himself and his sister.  Through it all, she has an Imaginary Friend, that in my thinking, acts like the voice of God to her.  He loves her and will continue to even though "she breaks [his] heart."  Sound familiar?  God loves us anyway.  Even when we choose not to listen to Him.

It is mentioned some people worship the Lady and her Dark Brother.

Spirits are bound in chains, and freed.  Rose Red travels a path that seems like an underworld of darkness, where she encounters creatures of the past, bound for eternity.  A legendary lantern lights her way, providing hope.  One character tells her, "You walk freely into Death's arms.  Why?"  She makes no answer knowing this is the path she must take in order to save a person that she doesn't particularly like.  She does it anyway.  But she is not alone.  A guardian rushes to her aid in the nick of time.  Her Imaginary Friend (mentioned above), you will know him as Someone Else in Heartless, remains by her side, speaking words of comfort and courage.

[Violence]
This is a medieval/fantasy story.  And what good is a medieval/fantasy tale if it doesn't have swords, monsters, and dragons?  As in Heartless, the Dragon leaves destruction wherever he roams.  A kingdom is leveled, people suffer the effects of dragon-smoke, leaving them wandering and empty.  A man is beaten with iron rods as punishment, fights erupt in a rich man's house, Leo is roughly tossed from an Emperor's presence.  Rose Red follows a path to "Death's world," where death reigns, blood stains the ground, a monster roams aimlessly horribly wounded, and yet still "alive."  Rose attempts in vain to help this creature with his injuries, but is unsuccessful and is forced to leave him to his eternal pain.

[Love-y Content]
Prince Lionheart, or Leo, comes to care deeply for Rose Red, though he knows nothing more could ever come of it.  Later, we return to Oriana Palace where he meets Princess Una.  We see a review of this story from his point of view this time and he seems to genuinely fall in love with Una, she in turn gives him her heart.  But he has come for a purpose, no matter how much he cares for Una, his kingdom comes first and he leaves her behind without explanation.  Eventually, he finds himself betrothed to the beautiful Daylily.

[Conclusion]
Overall, I loved this story! which continues in the third addition, Moonblood.  It teaches us that appearances are not what makes one beautiful, but what is evident in the heart.   It is easy to get confused towards the beginning and middle, but don't worry too much, it all pans out rather nicely, I believe.  Also, in the midst of all the seriousness, there is a good spattering of humor.  And in my opinion, that has a lot to do with the quality of a book.  One part in particular I literally laughed out loud.  And I don't usually do that.  :D

(i.e.) "Why are the trees pink and dripping frogs?"  
*guffaws* 

If you laughed, bless your heart.  =]

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Recommended ages:  13+


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3 comments:

Morgan said...

Thanks for posting this Sarah! Can't wait to read it!

Lauriloth said...

Oh goodness, girl! Don't worry a thing about my book. Trust me, there is no hurry. And I have others beta reading it for me as well, so it's all good! PLEASE don't feel stressed over it or anything. Just take your time, leave it to collect dust, whatever. I promise, there's not rush. ^_^

I loved this book too! It was fascinating reading Leo's story. I just found it so intriguing how the two books connected, but were still kind of stand alone ones. I really need to get my hands on Moonblood!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

=] I think you'll like it, Morgan!

Thank you, Lauri! You are so sweet!! Yes, I agree. I think both books would do well as stand-alones. :D