Book Review: "Veiled Rose" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Summary from 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?

Why yes, this book is YA fantasy. And why yes, I normally don't touch this stuff. And indeed, last year I said, after reading the first book in this series, even though I enjoyed it I was still a bit iffy about reading more books in the series because it's hard for me to get into fantasy.

If you like dragons, fairies, handsome prince, beautiful princesses and magic, you will love this book. Leo is the prince who steals Rose Red's heart. She's a strange girl who lives in the mountains and is heavily veiled so no one can see her face. I loved seeing her evolve with Leo's character though I was saddened when she goes with him to be his servant. Her conversations with her dreams were intense. The whole dragon bit is intense but in a good way. Lots of battle between light and dark there.

Even if you haven't read Heartless, you won't be lost at all as there are mostly new characters in this story. However if you have read the first book, it is lovely to see the story from Leonard's point of view when he meets Una. It makes a lot more sense as to why he did what he did then now that we have the whole story.

As with the first book, there are allegorical references again in this story. But as I am 1) a bit clueless when it comes to knowing the true meaning and 2) got completely swept up in the story, I actually couldn't tell you exactly what and where these references are from though I'm sure they are probably faith-based. Still, the reader is not going to feel bogged down by this at all. It's wonderfully written and any YA fantasy lover will swoon over this book.

The ending of this book broke my heart. Not because it was a bad ending per se, but because I felt so much hurt for Rose Red when she finally reveals herself. Honestly I wanted to cry. I also want to say that the cover of this book is then portrayed wrong. It made have to go back and flip through the pages to see if I had somehow missed something. I do hope that we get to see more of her in future books, I truly loved her character.

I honestly want to thank Stengl for writing these simply excellent books. You have made a non fantasy reader read your books. I really do hope that more readers outside of the Christian market find these books. The covers are appealing and the stories are what YA fantasy readers will love. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series now. Next year can't come fast enough for it. HIGHLY recommended.

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is published by Bethany House (2011)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Other books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series that I've reviewed:

Heartless (Book 1)


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