Published January 3, 2012 by Philomel (Penguin)
YA paranormal romance
If you prefer romance to action and don't mind angsty teenagers and love triangles, this might be a good book for you. And if you've read the rest of the series, I assume you'll read this one as well, but just note that it doesn't live up to the promise of the first book.
**WARNING: This is the third book in a trilogy. This review contains spoilers for the previous books, and discusses in general terms the events of this book.**
Bloodrose sounds like quite the adventure. After meeting Shay, learning that her life was a lie, teaming up with the Searchers she thought were her enemies, watching most of her pack get hurt, and finally rescuing Ren from the Keepers, Calla was ready for this war to be over. But to accomplish that, they needed to find the Elemental Cross that only the Scion could wield to stop the wraiths. And Calla needed to choose between Shay and Ren.
The Nightshade series always had an interesting premise. Lies are a good start. Follow that up with exciting conflict, genuine characters, a little tragedy, and a dash of romance, and you probably have an excellent series.
It's the dash of romance that's a problem.
You see, as it happens, I enjoy baking along with reading. When your recipe calls for a dash of salt, and your final product ends up two-thirds salt, it is not palatable. Or even edible. The same is true for books. If you're writing a book that's supposed to be about truth and doing the right thing, but it's 90 percent melodramatic love triangle, it will not accomplish anything. I was under the clearly mistaken impression that the love story had been resolved when Calla slept with Shay in Wolfsbane, but sadly we had to revisit it ad nauseum in Bloodrose as well. So much of the book was devoted to the love triangle that the actual story, retrieving the swords of the Elemental Cross and using them to defeat the Keepers, was rushed and incomplete.
Not only did the attention to the romance negatively affect the book's pacing, it was also highly detrimental to Calla's credibility and likability as a character. It was obvious who she was going to choose, so dragging it out the way she did just made her seem cruel and manipulative.
Without actually saying anything specific, the ending was a huge cop-out. For one thing, the story itself went something like this: love triangle angst indecision whining EVENT angst love triangle infighting EVENT anticlimactic decision whining arguing angst banter EVENT THE END. It's not a structure that really promotes closure or satisfaction, particularly with the obviously contrived way everything worked out. It was neither logical nor believable, and while the last few chapters, in spite of their absurdity, actually did make the ending seem less easy, even then the characters never really seemed to struggle. Because of that, the conclusion had a fake quality that detracted from the book almost as much as Melodramatic Love Triangle did.
Despite all that, I did mostly enjoy reading this book. It was easy to get through once I got into the story, and as I said, the world is quite interesting. Most of the relationships were sweet, if a little too abrupt to be genuine (another disappointment to lay at Love Triangle's door). Nightshade was easily the strongest book in the series, with Wolfsbane and Bloodrose trailing far behind.
In the same aisle
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand