Title: The Lady Rogue
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Recommend: Heck Yes!
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Dismemberment,
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for this free copy.
Okay, first of all, thank you for reminding me to read this one because for some reason I spaced on this. Second of all, I absolutely loved this book and I honestly can’t wait to read more of Bennett’s fantasy and historical fiction novels.
Theodora Fox is our main character, and she does refer to herself as a Lady Rogue at one point in the novel. Totally liked that. She is the daughter of an American “treasure hunter” – Richard Damn Fox – and her Romanian mother Elena who was killed by a cursed artifact years ago. Before Elena died, the Foxes would travel together all over the world to find ancient artifacts and gather history, but once Elena was killed, Richard refused to bring Theo on any more of his journeys. He would keep her in a hotel room until he found was he was looking for.
Theo is a feminist character that has no problem speaking up for herself and protecting those that she cares about. I was actually very proud of her for being headstrong, smarter than her father by realizing what was really going on with the Vlad Dracula ring and was able to save her and Hux during some troubling times. She was fluent in five languages and could swear in two more, and she came from old Romanian blood, and she was a strong character that wasn’t afraid to show weakness when she needed time to get her wits together again. But despite the obstacles that they faced, she never allowed them to hold her down for long. She may be one of my new favorite characters to date.
Huxley “Hux” Gallagher is an orphan who lost his parents in a terrible car accident when he was around 10 years old. Theo’s father took him in and they became family, until he was banished from Foxwood when Richard found Hux and Theo in a compromising position. He loves to butcher famous proverbs just to piss Theo off, and has been trying to gain the good graces of Richard again. He has seen Richard as his father since he took him in, and being exiled to Ireland with his remaining blood family has broken him to an extent. He does not like the supernatural like Theo does, and he tries to be the rational one of the duo. He and Theo work well together despite their banter, and he’s an excellent lock picker.
Throughout their journey, they have had various Romanian characters that have helped them learn more about what’s going on with Richard’s journey, and why Theo is involved. People like Mama Lovena, The Zuiss Brothers, and Valentin have proven to be friends of Theo and Hux, and teach her more about her Romanian heritage that her mother didn’t always have the chance to teach her. They were worthy allies, but allowed Theo to save the day on her own, only helping save Hux when he needed it.
Also, Richard Damn Fox is an asshole that has some serious issues. He and Theo will need to work these out if they plan on saving their already strained relationship. We don’t meet him until towards the end, but we get to read his thoughts through some journal entries of the last time he was in Romania.
This story combines some magical realism into the historical fiction world as Theo finds out that her father is not able to make it back to her and her tutor in Istanbul as planned. Instead, she finds Hux – who tricked the hotel staff into thinking that they were siblings – who tells her that Fox sent him to fetch her and bring her back to New York. Although not only does he not know where Fox is, but he was tasked with protecting her, and giving her one of Fox’s travel journals. That should help them find some sort of clues as to what’s going on, right?
It revolves around the legend of Vlad Dracula – Vlad the Impaler – he goes by many names. The point is that apparently there was some sort of supernatural power surrounding Vlad and his bloodlust, and that source of power was in the hands of some infamous people of power after him. Why were these people so prone to violence, doing some unspeakable actions like butchering babies and impaling tens of thousands of people?
Theo and Hux have to find her father on a journey across Europe into Transylvania, while trying to stay one step ahead of those that have been following them since Hux and Fox split up. During this journey, Theo finds out more about her heritage, her lineage from her mother’s side of the family, and finds that there are so much more supernatural things in the world than she could have ever imagined.
Theo was a strong woman. She didn’t want to stay behind while her father went on his many adventures, so she would make her own – to the dismay of her many tutors. Despite being left alone by her latest tutor, who leaves her alone in a foreign country without any funds at all, she does what she needs to in order to survive. There are times where she has an even cooler head than Hux, who likes to pretend that he’s a “big strong man” to allow Theo to stand up for herself. I liked that she remembered everything that her father taught her about ciphers, history, languages. She uses her intelligence, knowledge, and skill to get her out of these situations. I loved the history that we learn about Romania and some of the supernatural myths – like the Strigoi (Vampire Academy, anyone?) – and the white wolves that used to help the Darcians.
This was another one that had step-sibling romance, although I understand looking back why I was so turned off by the one in the Night Tiger. Thanks to Sammie for spelling out my thoughts when I couldn’t articulate it myself. While in the Night Tiger, Shin was forceful on Ji Lin about his feelings for her, scaring away her suitors (and she had no idea until he revealed that to her) and was possessive her and claimed her as his before she even made that decision herself.
In this one, it was mutual. They grew up together as adolescents, and were the best of friends growing up. They had a connection, and they ended up having sex. At the time, yeah it was pretty much taboo because they were technically step-siblings. And they both knew that it was wrong but they couldn’t deny their feelings. I only put this in the dislike section because taboo relationships like this aren’t my cup of tea, but the execution of this one was done way better than in The Night Tiger.
I also hated Richard Damn Fox for hiding so much from Theo, but that’s part of the story.
There were some grammatical errors in here, but I think that will be fixed before the actual publication.
Wow, I just really liked this one. Sure, I think the romance didn’t have to be in there, but it really didn’t take away from the story. Sure, I wish that there could have been another book, but it ended very nicely as a standalone, and worked well. I absolutely loved the magical realism in this novel, and how taking an old legend and putting a new spin on it was executed. There were no vampires in this novel, despite what everyone associates with “Dracula” and I absolutely loved that. I think Theo was a great character, and Hux was a great male supportive character. He may have pretended to be a macho man, but he respected all of Theo’s wishes, and understood her even when she didn’t want to voice her thoughts out loud. He believed in her when she was doubting herself. He was a good friend to her, and I liked that.
This was my first time reading a book from Bennett, and I was blown away. I hope that there are more historical fiction/fantasy novels from her.
Additional Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.