Word Spelunking

Rose - Holly Webb Holly Webb’s Rose (Rose #1) is a fun middle-grade read that enchanted and charmed me. Set in an alternate Victorian England where magic is real and those who have it are called alchemists and have great power and wealth, this story is all about one very special orphan. Ten year old Rose doesn’t dream of being whisked away from the orphanage by a new family. She wants nothing more than to find a job and make her own way in life, and she gets the chance when she’s hired as a maid in the grand home of the famous alchemist Mr. Fountain. Here Rose finds a surrogate family of sorts, a house brimming with magic, and unexpected friendships. And when children all over the city start to go missing, Rose and her new friends, and her maybe magical powers, must save them.There is so much to like about Rose: its endearing characters, captivating settings, and magic filled plot. Holly Webb is a wonderful storyteller and has crafted a story that is bursting with whimsy, excitement, humor, and heart, and she’s captured that sparkling pitch-perfect middle-grade voice. The only thing that I found a bit annoying about the writing, is an overabundance of unnecessary adverbs; but other than that, the writing is excellent. The world-building is rich in details, vivid, and layered. The Victorian England in Rose is both familiar yet intriguingly new with the addition of magic that is widely known about and revered. The grand Fountain house reminds me of Hogwarts (on a much smaller scale), in that it’s overflowing with magic, unexpected sounds; sights; and smells, and oddly behaving objects, and every turn of a doorknob leaves you in excited anticipation, never knowing what you’ll find. I do, however, wish that this magical abode was explored further and I’m hoping we see even more of it in future books.Webb’s characters are all charming and likable in their own ways. Rose is a fantastic middle-grade heroine with a lot spunk, smarts, and sass. She’s super relatable and easy to root for. The Fountain household is comprised of an eclectic and entertaining bunch. The other servants really become a new family for Rose, while Freddie (Mr. Fountain’s young apprentice) and Isabelle (his little girl) become unexpected friends for Rose. We don’t get to know Mr. Fountain too well in this first book, but there’s something very delightful and admirable in his pleasant, fun-loving demeanor. And of course, there’s Gus, the clever, posh talking cat (love him!).The magical elements (talking cats, mist-monsters, witches, and spells, oh my!) are super fun and both fantastically whimsical and thrillingly dark. I look forward to exploring the magical aspects of this world even more in future books.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Rose is brimming with magic, fun, and heart, and is an immensely entertaining and enjoyable middle-grade read. The characters charmed me, the setting captivated me, and the story thrilled me. This is a fantastic book for the middle-grade audience and older readers looking for a quick, delightful read.

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