The Rose Labyrinth
So, looking for a good summer read I came across The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie at my local “Friends of the Library” bookstore.
It LOOKS really cool, comes in an extra cover slip with the book on one side and a booklet of clues on the other side. It starts off really well with a “DaVinci Code” feel to it, with a focus on symbology and historical figures as part of the mystery, not to mention the Christianity vs Paganism vs Science overtones.
Pulling a George R.R. Martin, she kills off “the main character” after the reader becomes invested in him. The downfall to this technique occurs however when it also happens to be the strongest character, which it is in the case of “The Rose Labyrinth”. While his death is a catalyst for the story, it becomes a fluffy Harlequin Romancy thing after that. The two main characters are sickeningly “gorgeous”, there is a whole “princess who needs to be rescued by the prince” aspect to it, when the “new” beautiful and frail, main character, Lucy, has a heart transplant and falls in love with her handsome, seriously sensitive, and knight in shining armor, doctor. (Professional ethics be damned!) The extra characters such as their friends and family are just plain cardboard. The father has a depth of 0 and I kind of cringed every time he came on the scene. He didn’t seem to serve any purpose at all except to maybe add more protective testosterone to the cheesy mix.
I was hoping that the mystery part of it and the clue booklet would help make up for the syrupy romance but was sadly disappointed. I actually attempted to work at the clues but I really don’t think there is any way an average reader could figure any of them out even with access to the internet. I couldn’t do it and I’ve got an armchair interest in symbols, symbology, anthropology and the like. I eventually tired of even trying and just decided to discover the answers along with the characters and sometimes even that was a pretty far stretch. They seemed to have a general knowledge of stuff they really shouldn’t know unless they were anthropologists or something of that nature. Lucy is some kind of documentary film maker, so maybe that is supposed to explain it…
The author makes an attempt at some type of spiritual / mystical depth as Lucy has some connection to the mystery through her new heart, there are a couple of incidences of visions into previous time periods but these are so glossed over that it just makes the whole thing confusing.
In short, the book is a great concept and it could have been epic as a “DaVinci Code / Mists of Avalon” mix. Hardie should have just done away with the extra pretty packaging and the unsolvable booklet of clues and concentrated on writing the story with depth.