A Swoonworthy, Wild Adventure | The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 9/3/19
Pages: 384
Source: publisher in exchange for an honest review
The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father. Some legends never die… 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 honor 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.
Theodora would sometimes accompany her treasure hunting father on his trips around the globe. Yet, ever since he caught her with a boy in her bedroom, it’s been a slew of hotel rooms and governesses instead of wild adventures. However, when Huck, Theo’s former best friend and apparently her dad’s newest partner in crime, shows up unannounced exclaiming that he has lost track of her father, something doesn’t sound quite right. According to her dad’s journal, he was hired to track down the location of a cursed ring that is said to be worn by Vlad the Impaler himself. If Theo and Huck can find the ring, then they may just find her father. Though, it seems they aren’t the only ones looking for it and no matter how close they get to cracking the case, the others are always a step ahead of them. Jenn Bennett tries her hand at a historical fantasy that is equal parts intriguing and wildly entertaining. The Lady Rogue wows readers with its fun story, slow-burn romance, and its Sherlock-esque mystery of a missing ring.

  • Jenn Bennett is most known for her contemporaries like Starry Eyes and Serious Moonlight. The Lady Rogue is a historical fantasy. I couldn't have been more excited to see how Bennett tackles a very different genre than her usual. The Lady Rogue is set in 1938; and if you didn’t get constant reminders of the year at the beginning of every journal entry, you probably would have never known. It reads like a contemporary which is both good and bad. For those readers who don’t like the historical genre, this is a great gateway book as the dialogue feels more modern but still has certain elements that make it a distinct historical book (no modern technology, the 30s wardrobe described, and more). However, for readers hoping for a historical novel that whisks you away to a past time, it will not be found in The Lady Rogue. Despite it not reading like a historical book, I adored how readable it was and was surprised to find that I couldn't put it down.
  • I was also pleasantly surprised to find a bit of magic in The Lady Rogue. Of course, I anticipated a treasure hunt like no other. And that’s certainly what we received! However, the novel was steeped in legend of hauntings and witches galore. I wasn’t expecting the direction the novel took. 
  • Its spooky hunt for a cursed ring layered with the rich atmosphere of Romania makes it a perfect book to read during the colder months. As far as YA settings go, Romania doesn’t get used very often. The only book (besides The Lady Rogue) that comes to mind is And I Darken by Kiersten White which is a reimagining of Vlad the Impaler. The Lady Rogue takes you on a journey throughout Romania in search of a magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 
  • At the heart of the novel, the book is a mystery—in order to uncover the whereabouts of Theo’s father. The journey these characters embark on is both interesting and engaging. It's an adventure novel that can be likened to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee as both are historical road trip books. Though that’s where the similarities end. As Monty graces The Gentleman’s Guide with his snarky attitude and quick wit, Theodora is a different voice, filled with quiet confidence and curiosity.
  • Theo is the only character we get quite a bit of backstory to. Huck, her former friend and now adventure partner, is surrounded in mystery. At first, his backstory is incredibly vague. And as much as I'm all for the brooding YA love interest, it didn’t altogether work in this book. I found myself wanting to know more—a little less banter, less code cracking and more deep conversation and character development. 
  • The chemistry between Theo and Huck was almost tangible. Bennett has proven herself a master at romance and it definitely shows in The Lady Rogue. The story lies in careful balance with part adventure and part romance. 
  • The adventure was top notch entertainment. It was riveting. Bennett gives you a little Nancy Drew in Serious Moonlight but The Lady Rogue goes entirely Sherlock with a little bit of magic thrown in. There are codes to crack and leads to follow. All directing them to a treasure that's been lost for ages. 
  • At this point, there is no news about the sequel or if this will be getting a sequel. YA fantasy standalones are few and far in between so it would be nice to put The Lady Rogue in that category. However, Bennett leaves the book open for new adventures in the future. I wouldn't mind returning to this treasure hunting gang.
  • The ending was magical. The final scenes took place in an ancient castle that Bennett described so well, it gave me chills. It was as if readers were right there with Theo. My heart is still beating out of control, worrying over all the characters. 

Overall, The Lady Rogue was such a wild adventure, a masterful page turner that is sure to capture your heart. I can’t wait to return to it again and again!

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