Summary (from the publisher):
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.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Everyone knows how much I love Jenn Bennett’s YA contemporaries. Her first 2019 release, Serious Moonlight, is very much a contender for my favorite book of the year. Jenn Bennett has once again swept me away with her second book of 2019, The Lady Rogue. With The Lady Rogue, Jenn Bennett has transitioned from YA contemporary to YA historical fantasy. Set in late 1930s Romania, the book follows Theodora and her ex-best friend Huck as they set off to find Theodora’s missing in action and explorer of a father while also searching for a magical ring rumored to have been owned by Vlad the Impaler-otherwise known as Dracula.
No matter the genre, I once again fell into Jenn Bennett’s writing from the get-go. I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary this summer with some fantasy and historical fiction in between, but The Lady Rogue made me crave more books within these two genres! As a young woman in the 1930s, Theo’s father does often not let her accompany him as his expeditions. Theo is sick of being stuck in hotel rooms and being basically babysat by her tutors, especially while Huck gets to join her father. Despite being often restricted from explorations, I loved Theo’s sense of adventure and this book was really about her getting to have her own time in the spotlight. From crossword puzzles to cryptic messages, Theo loves solving mysteries, and she definitely leads the two in finding answers about her father and the ring.
Like her contemporary books, Jenn Bennett always has some sort of balance between romance, character development and family dynamics. Theo and her father have a complicated relationship. While frustrating at times (see Huck getting to explore more than Theo mainly because he is a guy), I liked seeing Theo tackle on her issues with her father while also caring about him a lot and aka trying to make sure he is still alive after suddenly disappearing during this ring quest.
Fans of the enemies turned lovers trope will absolutely adore Huck and Theo’s dynamic. Even with their complicated past, I don’t know how Theo didn’t swoon for Huck from the start- I sure did once he announced himself with his Irish accent! The Lady Rogue definitely emphasizes Theo and Huck’s quest, but I did enjoy that Jenn Bennett still was able to explore their relationship. I loved their sarcastic remarks to one another along with their own-swoon worthy moments- including the lengths Huck went to while trying to find crossword puzzles for Theo.
Although I love a good high fantasy read or complicated fantasy world once in a while, I do love books with fairly simple magic systems. I admit that I would probably never have picked up a book about Dracula if it weren’t by one of my favorite authors, but I definitely enjoyed the world-building, as Huck and Theo travel through Romania. There are so many different settings within the country, including a lot of crave-worthy food. Jenn Bennett provides a lot of historical information surrounding Romania and Vlad the Impaler, but the magic and fantasy in this book were simple. Readers who are looking for a fluffy fantasy read, aka a book with simple magic and more focus on character and relationship development, will really enjoy The Lady Rogue.
Overall, The Lady Rogue is definitely one of my most enjoyable reads of the year. While I think I’ll always love Jenn Bennett’s contemporary work best, I am excited to see what else she may bring to the fantasy genre.
The Lady Rogue comes out on September 3, 2019.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy. By no means did receiving this ARC from the publisher affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is The Lady Rogue on your TBR? Have you read any books by Jenn Bennett? Share in the comments!