Night’s Arose follows spunky protagonist Nessarose – but, please, call her Arose – as she defends her home and family against the threat of demon invasion using her wits, bravery, and the powers of a mysterious, ancient magic. There’s romance too, and quite a few amorous scenes that, while handled delicately by Roche, will nevertheless leave you blushing.
Our heroine, Arose, is difficult to pin down. She’s a tomboy, but also a lady. She enjoys dressing up as a man to escape the stuffy confines of nobility, but still indulges in the finery found on a certain Captain St. James’ closet. This duality is engaging and a fresh break from the uncertain coming-of-age girl who hesitates and waits for rescue. Roche’s heroine rarely hesitates: she’s strong, clever, truthful, and confident, even when she doesn’t have a reason to be. I enjoyed reading about Arose; she’s sexy and easily carries the reader through her bizarre and complicated adventure.
Arose’s story begins with bang – we’re thrust into her immediate, unexpected danger – and it continues to moves at a breathless pace the entire novel. There is not a moment of rest or a paragraph of prose that does not push you into the next sentence with urgency. Night’s Arose is a sprint, and the racing tempo kept me glued to the book for fear that if I blinked, I would miss something. Yet this same quickness often left me confused, and I found myself doubling back over a passages more than once, asking myself, “Wait – who was that?” What just happened? When did the dragon get here?”
The plot begins in the present, but lingers for only a moment before shifting the reader into the past, showing Arose’s childhood and how she received her powers. These memories are some of my favorite parts of the book, and I wish Roche had spent more time on these formational moments. I could easily see an entire novel being born out of Arose’s adolescence on her Uncle’s ship, her relationship with young Blaze blossoming from childhood friendship into something more. Unfortunately, we only get to see a few moments of their young adventures together due to the rushing nature of book. While the transitions between past and present are handled well, they still fall short of what I needed as a reader, and left me wishing Roche had let us stay in Arose’s memories just a bit longer.
While Arose is the heroine, Roche’s story does not lack for interesting characters that have unique voices and personalities all their own. Dialogue is done particularly well, with Roche rarely relying on her character’s words to tell the story, instead using dialogue to enrich the world and strike emotional purpose into the plot. Arose’s voice itself- noble yet approachable, fierce and passionate – is easily distinguishable from the many dramatic tones of her world.
Roche’s writing is best when she writes emotion – particularly fear. My body ached with dread during those moments when Arose was threatened by the monstrous, vile boar. Roche’s descriptions of Arose’s own physical symptoms often transcending the book. Her empathetic writing also excels during moments of romance. Her descriptions of intimacy are never crude, but balance fantasy and sensuality with grace and style, avoiding common romance tropes. Captain St. James is an excellent match for fiery Arose, and their love story is energetic and passionate, if not a bit hurried.
You should read this book if: you are a fan of magic, romance, and adventure. My biggest criticism is that Roche moved us through the adventure too fast, and there wasn’t more of Arose’s story to read. I really think she could have fleshed her book out into two if not three novels that fully explored Arose’s adolescence and young adulthood. I am still left wanting to know more about Arose’s three childhood friends, about her servant maid, about her father and sister, about the town she lives in, and about her relationship with Old Bess. These absences ultimately left me with more questions than answers when I closed Roche’s book.
Still, Night’s Arose is an epic story of love and destiny, and the adventure is an enjoyable, quick read that will leave you thinking about the secrets of magic, and perhaps daydreaming of Captain St. James. I am excited to read more of Roche’s work; she is an author to watch.