Published by Scholastic Press on April 28, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Young Adult
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History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
Five reasons why you should read Rook:
- Strong female heroine who can take care of herself: Unlike the Scarlet Pimpernel (which this book is somewhat based on), the one saving people from the guillotine is a young woman named Sophia. She can cross blades with the best of them, spends lots of time climbing onto roofs, verbally spars with ease, frees people from prison cells, and still has time to attend her own engagement party, in a beautiful gown.
- Mysterious and untrustworthy but completely swoonworthy hero: René Hasard is Sophia’s fiancee, but the first time she meets him is at their engagement party. He appears to be a flirtatious fop, but as they get to know each other, she realizes this is a front he puts on to protect his real interests and identity. Their romance grows at a good pace, certainly not starting out as instalove. There’s a lot of distrust to get over, and René has to prove himself to Sophie again and again.
- Plenty of righteous justice being served: if you know the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel (or the French Revolution for that matter), you know there were a lot of people being slaughtered simply for having more money than the poor people (now, sure, many of them had done worse things than be rich, but that was the reason they were killed). Sophia takes it upon herself to smuggle people out of the Tombs, the prison hole in the middle of sunken Paris where people are being unlawfully imprisoned.
- SUNKEN PARIS: Rook is technically some futuristic dystopian, where the world has cycled back around to no technology, so it reads mostly as if it were happening around the 1800’s. There are obvious elements that prove its in the future (such as Sophia’s brother having a Nintendo controller, although not knowing what it was or what it was used for in the past). But thanks to some earth gravity mumbo jumbo Paris sank into the ground, separating into the Lower City and the Upper City (Where most of the ‘rich’ people live). The Lower City is where the prison is and where the executions take place, where angry mobs gather to jeer and cheer at the beheadings, where Sophia works her magic and leaves a red-tipped feather in place of innocent prisoners.
- Terrifying and maniacal bad guys: LeBlanc is a gendarme who has a religious fervor about beheading people in the Sunken City. He is always leaving things up to the Goddess Fate, choosing to flip a coin and perform rituals to hear her will. It’s all very creepy, and he’s quite sadistic. You really want Sophia to just punch his lights out.
While the writing was very good, I found myself skimming a lot. The style that Sharon Cameron utilizes gives lots of information all the time, that makes for a detailed plot and fleshed out characters, but slows things down a bit. The sections where the plot clips along were great; I was fully engrossed. But there were definitely places where I felt there were unnecessary passages. That’s just a personal preference though; I believe Cameron’s writing is excellent, and I enjoyed the book immensely.
There was a love triangle, but it actually fit the plot extremely well, and I enjoyed how it all played out (words I never thought I’d say).
Great for fans of historical romance, swashbuckling, sword fighting, and imaginative retellings.
Content: Disturbing images (some torture), violence, kissing. Recommended for 16+.