I'm a big fan of the Once Upon a Time series, though admittedly some entries in the series have been stronger than others. The Rose Bride falls somewhere in the middle.
Nancy Holder nailed the fairy tale feeling and the whole story had that magical story quality that I like to see in retellings. That also means the characters aren't SUPER developed, but that's not really a problem in fairy tales. Still, surprisingly, especially considering it's such a short book, there's actually a lot of stuff going on in terms of both character growth and events.
Rose, the heroine, was instantly likable and I felt strongly for her as she suffered through the requisite fairy tale trials (and they were so sad!). The villains of the story were creepy and easy to hate while still being people I cared about enough to continually hope they would redeem themselves in the end. The king had more depth than a stock Prince Charming, and I liked how he actually had a character arc of his own.
The story itself was really enjoyable. Elements are taken from the original Grimm version The White Bride and the Black One as well as Cinderella (or, more directly, the movie Ever After. Actually, VERY strongly from Ever After). There's also this whole part toward the latter half of the book that seems to speak directly (against) the fairy tale tradition of love at first sight. I'm not a big fan of instalove, so I especially appreciated this part.
But, everything wasn't perfect. The writing was jumbled in some parts with a few sentences making very little sense. Some plot points were also unnecessarily convoluted or not presented in the best way. They weren't deal breakers for me, but they were present enough that they're still worth noting.
I also didn't love the combination of French language and setting, a total fantasy kingdom, and Greek mythology. This was another feature that seemed jumbled. Two elements might have worked, but the presence of all three didn't make sense and was distracting.
Overall enjoyable and an entry worth reading by fans of the series. I'm glad I picked this up.
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