Seventeen-year-old Vivienne lives in a world of knights and ladies, corsets and absinthe, outlaw magic and alchemical machines. By day, she is lady-in-waiting to the future queen of Camelot–Guinevere. By night, she secretly toils away in the clock tower as apprentice to Merlin, the infamous recovering magic addict.
Then she meets Marcus, below her in class, destined to become a knight, and just as forbidden as her apprenticeship with Merlin. When Morgan le Fay, the king’s sorceress sister, declares war on Camelot, Merlin thinks they can create a metal beast powered by steam and alchemy to defeat her. But to save the kingdom, Vivienne will have to risk everything–her secret apprenticeship, her love for Marcus, and her own life.
I received an advance copy of this book through the publisher via Netgalley for purposes of review. These opinions are my own.
I love Arthurian legends and when I saw this book, I knew that I had to request it. However, starting off–I really didn’t connect with this book. I couldn’t seem to pinpoint the voice of Vivienne. Everything seemed so… I don’t know exactly. It wasn’t drab, it wasn’t boring, I guess the best way to describe how it felt for me was dark. Things seemed much darker and at points in time, things were much duller.
The book went on this way for a while, at least for me. I just found myself farther and farther from Vivienne. I almost DNFed until I picked up this book again on a whim and found that there was a lot more too it than I had been finding. Right in the beginning of the middle of the story, the steampunk theme really begins to liven up. The steampunk is a little bit messy in the sense that things are very gray and not really sorted through all that well, but I still enjoyed many of the alchemy elements and the original ideas really stood out to me.
There were a lot of times when Vivienne seemed just not really there to me. Almost unlike a person, with feelings, emotions, reactions, etc. There were plot events where I expected her to do something, anything really, and she did nothing. I think that Rose would’ve been wiser to go the third person route for CAMELOT BURNING, because I was just not feeling it for Vivienne. Another thing–Guinevere. Vivienne and Guinevere were supposed to be friends, but they don’t act at all like friends–and that’s when they actually talk to each other. It’s almost like some very bad shoujo anime, one girl (and two very absent other girls) among a horde of men. Uh yeah, that only worked for Ouran High School Host Club.
While many things did not work for me in this book, I loved many of the themes and the potential right in the middle of the story. I am disappointed that Rose did not make more of it, especially the characters and world-building. Here, I just couldn’t piece together a world in my mind. Overall, a unique, interesting read–but I just needed a lot more in many aspects. 2 stars.
pg count for the paperback: 408