-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Stonie Williams
Writer – Meredith Finch
Pencils & Inks – Ig Guara
Colors – Triona Farrell
Letters – Cardinal Rae
Khats are magical greats cats. Lions, leopards, tigers, and the like. Khats pair off with humans called Guardians. They’re protectors of the realms and scions of virtue and justice. Guardians and their khats shared a bond-communicating and sharing feelings between them. One day the khats begin to disappear. So too did the magic that protected the people begin to fade. There were those that preyed on this weakness and soon started a war. Without the magic and protection of the Guardians and the Khats, evil prevailed.
When one whose destiny is to be a guardian comes into their power their hair turns white. Some show the sign as children while some don’t show until they’re older. Queen Drucilla, responsible for the war, orders the capture of every new Guardian. The Queen has one goal: Take the magic of the Guardians for herself. Everything and everyone else is expendable in the pursuit of this endeavor.
Which brings us to our titular character, Rose. Rose is a young girl living in a small village with her mother. While Rose is spending time in the forest The Queen’s guards come looking for rebels. They set the village on fire killing everyone, including Rose’s mother.
Rose escapes looking for safety. She stumbles into the very rebels the Queen’s men were looking for. While traveling with the rebel’s de facto leader, Ila, Rose’s power manifests. Her hair turns white. Somewhere, her khat, the last of his kind, called Thorne, awakens.
Rose is a fun, exciting romp through high fantasy. This book calls to mind stories like Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. It also reminds me of stories of ElfQuest and the Dragonriders of Pern. Characters destined for greatest with animals as their closest companions.
Rose brings together larger than life characters to tell a kind of coming of age story. But it’s not all magic and destiny and swords. You also get a ground level story of rebels trying to survive. The simple act of trying to feed your family is against you.
The rebel fighter and Ila’s quasi-protege, Will, strives to keep his people alive and free. He finds it a daunting task in the face of superior forces. But along with Fel, Bjarke, and the other rebels, they persevere. Common people fighting for their lives can be formidable adversaries.
Meredith Finch builds a clear and vibrant world. Ig Guara’s artwork molds and shapes that world. Giving it the depth of emotion the story requires from these characters. Triona Farrell’s colors turn that world into something you feel you’re apart of. Something you can almost walk into.
Rose stays true to the genre. It features some gruesome scenes, truly heart wrenching moments, and scantily-clad figures. No real gore or nudity, but definitely some suggestive images and violence. It’s fun, exciting, and a non-stop adventure that anyone over the age of 10 would safely enjoy.
Until next time, happy reading!