Title: The Lady Rogue
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 3rd, 2019 (Simon Pulse)
Synopsis: Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honour goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.
Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.
Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.
Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Theodora Fox’s father is a famous treasure hunter, and she has always wanted to travel the world with him, searching for these priceless artifacts, but is always left behind. But when Huck Gallagher, her father’s protégé, arrives at her Istanbul hotel with the grave news that her father is missing, Theo and Huck set out on a journey across Romania, tracing his path to uncover the secret behind a magical ring that once belonged to the infamous Vlad the Impaler.
I had much higher hopes for this book, to be honest, and it just didn’t measure up for me – mainly because of the characters. The plot itself is fantastic, and the historical aspects to it were something I particularly liked. Theo and Huck’s travels – the Orient Express, the Romanian countryside, castles in the Carpathian Mountains and more, were all so interesting! Eastern Europe is a setting I’ve only come across a few times in YA, and there is so much to be explored. Also, can we take a moment to admire that gorgeous cover?
It was also nice that there wasn’t too much time wasted on background and world-building, and the action started right from page one. Though admittedly a little heavier on the fantasy aspect than I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces of the puzzle coming together and the scene where Theo solves the ciphers in her father’s journal was really intriguing. It was also nice to learn more about Vlad the Impaler along the way, a figure I have not seen in YA since The Conqueror’s Saga trilogy (a series I absolutely loved). I do have to mention though, that the time period of the book itself seemed to have little effect on the plot and the usual feel that a historical novel possesses was somewhat missing in this one.
The characters on the other hand…well, I never really got attached to either of them, and by the halfway point, I was reading more for the plot and historical background. Theo in particular was a very hard character to like. I felt she was extremely self-centred and entitled at times and ridiculously naive at others. Her misadventures go from hilarious to annoying very quickly. The history between Huck and Theo was easy to guess and obvious very early on, and there was really no reason to have dragged out that particular plot point as long as it did.
Despite the serious nature of the adventure however, The Lady Rogue maintains a light and humorous tone throughout, evident in the many amusing exchanges between Huck and Theo, and the perfect pacing makes it an easy read. Overall, while there were several things about this book that did not work for me, the adventure at the heart of it was a fun and exciting read.
The Lady Rogue releases on September 3rd, 2019.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!