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. Headstrong young Leo startles everyone by befriending Rose Red, and together they begin searching for the monster rumored to be stalking these lands.
But the hunt, which began as a game, holds greater risk than either imagines. Soon both are forced to test their trust in each other as a far more terrifying scourge puts their entire land at risk.
-image and summary from veiledrosenovel.blogspot.com
Veiled Rose is the second book in the series "Tales of Goldstone Wood" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Having read Heartless, I came into this novel with a predetermined dislike of Lionheart, one of the principle characters. By the end, my view of him had changed and I even started to like him.
Meanwhile, Rose Red is a very loyal, easily likeable protagonist. Her goat, Beana, is simply delightful, and I found her a very fun addition to an otherwise very serious, thought-provoking novel. This is not the average fairy tale in that everyone's dreams come true--quite the opposite. Some people's dreams are very dangerous, and the novel makes one reconsider their own desires and how they might affect others around us. When the last page ended, I was very grateful that I had the next book, Moonblood, on hand.
That being said, I found Veiled Rose a bit slow in the start; it took me a few weeks to get to the halfway point. (Please keep in mind that I'm also a university student and have lots of other things on my plate as well.) But as soon as I reached that halfway mark, things started happening and I got sucked into the story. I was absolutely riveted--the Netherworld through which Rose Red journeys is both mysterious and chilling, and Lionheart's quest over many lands is long and interesting. I especially enjoyed his encounter with a young emperor, whom I hope we will see again in later books--he's so interesting I'd love for him to have his own book!
Another thing I must say is that in one of the blurbs, this story is described as 'romantic'. If you read that before starting this, it may be a tad misleading. There is definitely love in this book, but it's not of the all-consuming kind. It's merely a facet of these characters, and ends up being realistic and intricately woven into the characters without being overly angsty. Each character loves in layers and various strengths, and often are confused over their feelings and keep their true feelings to themselves. I appreciated this realistic approach by the author.
Lastly, I must confess that though she is one of the villains, I loved Lady Daylily. I found her dilemmas heartwrenching and could empathize with her struggles. Again, Anne Elisabeth Stengl has written a compelling villain that points out our own failings as humans while also tugging at our heartstrings. I hope Daylily finds a happy ending and that her story is far from over.
In the end, Veiled Rose may not be my favourite book of the series, but it is definitely worth its weight in gold and certainly deserved its Christie Award. And it is sure to entrance those who wander into the world of Goldstone Wood!
**I received this book for free in a contest on Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog (www.anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com), but that has not affected my review in any way.