Cover Image: Floodtide


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When I heard another book in Jones’ Alpennia Series was to come out this year, I was both excited and sad because I knew I would read it in a day or two and then the window into Alpennia would be closed again until the next in her series was released. I never dreamed I might love Floodtide more than the books that came before it. It can absolutely be read as a standalone, but some of my favorite players from the first three books make appearances and I think the experience is richer having read the others in the series as well. The timeline of Floodtide straddles part of the second and third books in the series, but from a whole new perspective. I can’t wait to go back and catch new details in those stories.

Floodtide is told in first person from Rozild “Roz” Pairmen’s point of view. A laundry maid when we first meet her, over the course of the story her role changes and evolves like water moving underfoot. I thought this was a story about Roz, but it’s actually about the city of Rotenek in the way The Wire is more about Baltimore than any of the named characters in that show. This is a testament of Jones’ storytelling abilities, to be able to weave such rich worldbuilding seamlessly around a gripping tale of a young woman bearing many secrets (some her own, some of others); having left the countryside for work, she is trying to find her place in a complex new city.

I often tell people Jones’ Alpennia Series isn’t really about romance but it is about love. She writes “found family” better than anyone I’ve read. I’m fascinated by our queer foremothers and these books have fleshed out one universe where people who love other people of the same gender not only survive but they thrive. More than that they look out for each other, and in Floodtide we find out the affinity for people like themselves, people different in notable ways, transcends race and class.

There is a line in the film Ocean’s Eight about women going unnoticed, and in Floodtide that adage is applicable to the serving class going unnoticed. I say this book is about Rotenek because Roz, being in service, can go places the high society protagonists of the earlier books in the series could never go. Roz and her merry band of friends – an unlikely bunch that includes: the daughter of the town’s dressmaker, her best friend Celeste; younger cousins of book one protagonists Barbara and Margerit, Brandal and Iulien respectively; the youngest palace prince and possible heir to the throne, Aukustin; and a riverboat woman, Liz – take the reader into the underbelly of Rotenek and flesh out the inner workings of the town. Oftentimes Roz is too young and/or too inexperienced at life to understand the trouble or danger she could be in, but that kept me on the edge of my seat and turning the page.

Even more than in the other books in the series, the fantastical elements of Alpennian society, always filling the cracks of Rotenek, are at the core of the story. There is a constant sense of adventure and hope, even when the characters are facing the bleakest of circumstances.

I can’t remember the last time I was moved to tears by a book, but Jones managed to make me full on sob with happiness, not once but twice!

This is simultaneously both a fantastic entry point to Jones’ Alpennia Series, and a wonderful compliment to the stories that came before it. As one of my favorite books of the year, I hope you’ll give it a try and fall in love with the goings on in Rotenek as much as I have.
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Content warning: plague (not graphic).

Floodtide is a wonderful slice of life historical fantasy - there is only light magic, but just enough to flavour the world and make it feel special. It's definitely got a Ghibli-esque vibe about it! We follow Roz, a young woman who has lost her situation after becoming romantically involved with another laundry maid, and how she builds a new life for herself. The book is populated mainly by female characters (though there is one major male character, who is trans), and there is such a variety in the types of women that this is a joy to read. Their interpersonal relationships are the backbone of the novel - the stakes get a little higher towards the end, but this is not a book that is packed with action and danger. There's some romance (f/f of course!) but it's low-angst and not a prominent plot point, just a part of life, which I loved. It's highly character driven, and comforting; perfect for a cozy afternoon's reading. Four stars.
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Set in an imagined 19th century French kingdom of Alpennia, this is a thoroughly engrossing read. A little bit of Downton Abbey with a whole lot more magic and a whole lot more lesbian couples, the world it creates completely captures the reader.

Roz, a young laundry maid is fired from her job for indulging in ‘indecent acts’ with another girl, Nan. Thrown out sans her belongings and sans a character reference, Roz is still resilient and finds temporary shelter with Dominique, a dressmaker. Laws do not allow Dominique to give Roz an apprenticeship but she gives her food, shelter and keeps her busy. Celeste, Dominique’s daughter is around the same age as Roz and helps her mother, though Celeste’s true love and calling lies in charms. She struggles to learn more about her passion but knows she is bound by necessity to remain in dressmaking. Dominique finds Roz a place in Margerit Sovitre’s house and many worlds intersect because of this humble placement.

The word and world building of the book is excellent. All the main characters of the book are in their teens and by turns naïve, strong, vulnerable and always carrying with them the invincibility of age as they navigate the world. Interestingly, the book has a lot of inclusivity including a trans/intersex character, gay characters and multiple people of different races. This is not strictly a romance, though the feeling of bubbling romance is pervasive. Roz is clueless and rather foolish – so much so that she actually manages to get the object of her affection imprisoned by her unthinking idiocy. Celeste is a really strong character. The other supporting characters are also very likeable. But it is really the writing, the story and the world imagined that engage the reader utterly and completely.

This is a great fantasy book to pick.
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A very strong beginning and quite a strong ending were let down, for me, by a weak middle, and a viewpoint character who was neither the most interesting person nor the person with the most at stake. These craft missteps brought a well-edited and generally appealing book down to three stars. 

I always say that if you give me a motivated character in a dynamic situation, you'll have my attention for as long as you want it. At the beginning of the book, it looked like that was what I was going to get. Roz is dismissed, without references, pay, or anything more than the clothes she's wearing at the time, for "lewd conduct" with another female servant. Desperate, she wanders the streets, homeless, penniless, and hopeless. 

However, she quickly falls on her feet and gets not one, but two good opportunities. The biggest point of tension for her is that she'll eventually have to decide between them, but that decision isn't imminent or urgent. There are some half-formed romantic longings, but they never become plot drivers either, and the middle devolves into a long series of mostly inconsequential events. Roz is not striving for anything specifically, or trying to resolve any story question in particular, so there's really no plot to speak of, and she isn't a true protagonist, just a main character. 

Interesting things are happening just offstage and to people who aren't Roz, but she (and, therefore, the audience through her first-person viewpoint) gets to hear about them only indirectly and not in any depth. I got the impression that this is a side story to a series that may tell some of those stories; I very much wished that I was reading the books that told those stories, and not this one, at times. Roz's is an engaging viewpoint, despite or, at times, because of its naivite, and she's one of those characters I sometimes wish we saw more of: the reliable, hard-working person of low status who isn't a noble in disguise or a fated Chosen One. The Samwise Gamgee, if you like. But in the whole of the book, she only does one thing that affects events to any degree worth speaking of, apart from perhaps bringing together characters who do more - and then holding things for them and handing them things while they do the interesting stuff. 

Because there is interesting stuff on stage again, there at the end, and the characters collectively save the day. I'm all for ensemble casts, and I have no issue with that whatsoever; I'm even quite happy that, at the end, Roz makes something of a sacrifice (that still leaves her in a good position) to enable someone else to fulfil their potential. Unfortunately, that doesn't make up for the aimless middle. 

What kept me reading through the aimless middle was the promise offered by the beginning; Roz's voice; and the fact that, even in an ARC from Netgalley, the copy editing was to a high standard (only five minor errors, two vocabulary and three apostrophe-related). The world-building was also interesting, with ubiquitous magic enmeshed with both folk tradition and Catholicism. But that middle part did drag the book down to three stars for me.
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This was a very good historical fantasy that fans of the series will enjoy, and is more accessible for new readers. I say this because while there's not a lot of explanation about the magic system, it is due to the fact that the lead character, Roz, isn't as involved with the magic that the characters from the main series are. She knows about charms and mysteries (spells), and how the religion plays into the strength of the magic in the world, but she doesn't have the aptitude for it. Instead, she's simply trying to find a place in the world that shuns people like her: poor and romantically attracted to people of the same gender as her.

I enjoyed this book because Roz is very much a common person doing her best in her world, especially after being caught with her sweetheart and her sweetheart basically pinning the blame all on her. When she meets Celeste, the dressmaker's daughter and talented magic user, she is pulled into a world of magic that she only knew stories about. Celeste is an amazing character - she's smart and compassionate, even as her observations are sharp and painful.

As I said before, fans of the Alpennia series will jump in with a lot of eagerness, especially since some of the leads in the earlier books have roles here. People new to the series will find a richly built world that does a fantastic job of melding fantasy with historical fiction. Highly recommended.
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This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

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Floodtide, by the author Heather Rose Jones is a “alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure” coined by the author, is the fourth book in the the much loved Alpennia series. 

The lead protagonist is a laundry maid Rozild Pairmen, who struggles under her formidable enemy is a housekeeper, who holds the power to dismiss her at a whim.
Roz is Dismissed because of her indiscretions that cause a series of events. 
Roz, is then presented with a second chance from the dressmaker Mefro Dominique, 
The dressmaker is understanding of Roz’s plight, but also knows what favors to call in. Mefro Dominique, carefully collects and hoards favors from the women who are her clientele. Rozild becomes an apprentice steady rising in her position.

The household has a close relationship of woman,  and Roz becomes close to Celeste, who happens to have a talent for magical charms. This very important talent becomes needed when the river that divides the city floods and brings the dreaded river fever that could kill thousands.

This captivating novel is rich and vibrant, with wonderful diverse characters. 
An historical magical realism book at its best. transporting  the reader to another place and time. I was completely immersed into Heather Rose Jones meticulous world building, The storyline flows beautifully and the intriguing secrets we get to know as the main protagonist does. Roz is headstrong character, knowing what she could expect out of life, But struggles at the bonds that have been placed on her. This add depth to the plot line. Wonderful characters development and complex relationships, along with the setting period drama are brought to life with unique details. 
This is a splendidly exquisite book!
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Floodtide by Heather Rose Jones is the fourth book in the Alpennia series. As with the other three books in the series, Floodtide is set in Ms. Rose’s historical and magical world of Alpennia. In this tale we meet Roz who has just been fired as the laundry maid without a character reference to help her find a new job. She is now totally alone in the city of Rotenek with nothing to her name but the clothes on her back, and no place to go. This is very dangerous for Roz. A young homeless woman with no protection roaming the streets is in serious jeopardy.  After several days she luckily ends up at the home and dressmaker shop of Mefro Dominique and her daughter Celeste. With the help of Mefro Dominique and the patronage of the royal thaumaturgist, Roz is apprenticed to the dressmaker. Not only does she learn dressmaking skills, but she helps Celeste who happens to have a talent for magical charms. This becomes very important when the river that divides the city floods and brings the dreaded river fever that could kill thousands. It is possible that only Roz, Celeste, and their young friends can save these lives through magic…if they dare.

This is an excellent historical fantasy novel. Since it is set in a world that has already been used in other stories, there was no real need for world building. It has already been done. The story flows well and the characters are real for the time period and the world they live in. I connected with Roz and her friends, though there were times in the story that I wished Roz would mature a little faster than she did. The only real problem I had was the number of characters in the book as a whole and trying to keep up with their names. That is a problem I often have with fantasy stories, but this one wasn’t too bad. I found that as long as I paid attention to the story, I could figure out who was who. I really enjoyed the novel as a whole, so that wasn’t too hard.

This is my first novel in the Alpennia series, but I chose to read it anyway. This is an independent story, set in the same world and with some of the same characters as the other books in the series. This can be read as a standalone book. Those of you who have read the other novels will enjoy seeing a few characters you know from those books as minor characters here. I enjoyed the book even without reading the others. I will be getting the earlier novels since I’m now invested in this world and the characters I’ve met. This book could be shelved as Young Adult, but don’t let that stop you from reading this.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bella Books for an honest review.

Rainbow Reflections:
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I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review. 

This was a good read set in world where magic and mystery has its place.

It took me a minute to get into because there was a lot of characters from previous books that haven't read and even though this book is told from the pov of a teenage servant girl name Roz.

Roz was dismissed from her job as a laundry maid because she was to believe to have indecent acts with another young woman. 

When she has nowhere to turn she wind up at dressmaker place asking for chance and she becomes apprentice I love going into details on how to make dresses and how each titch is connected. 

Roz get drawn into the dressmaker daughter Celeste web when she starts to learn magic which is in this book but it most in the background but to me the book is more about how Roz find her place and the secrets we learn through her eyes. I like the difference dynamics between each women and how they are unique and strong in different ways. 

I did like how everything was tied together that made a great ending.
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Floodtide is the fourth book set in the Alpennia universe, but unlike the previous books, this one is entirely stand-alone. Myself, I haven't read the first three books, but when I saw that this one could be read alone I thought it was the perfect place to dive in. 

I will say, that the beginning of the book took a little bit of work on my part to fully understand. It's not that you need to have read the previous books, it's more that Jones has an incredibly complex world -- there are lots of invented titles and a very unique magic system -- she doesn't baby you through this. The story expects you to keep up. This made the world truly immersive and fascinating to discover, but I had to take my time getting to know both the characters and the world

Once I got a grip of what was happening, I was hooked. 

I was fascinated by the characters, especially (what I would call the main characters) Liv, Celeste and Roz. There's a very large cast of secondary characters (some of whom I believe are protagonists in previous books) but everyone felt fully fleshed out and fully realised. Something I really liked was that this book had a very large female and/or queer cast. I always think it's great when not only do books have a lot of female characters but also show come in the different ways in which women can be unique and strong in different ways. 

I really enjoyed the below-stairs world that we got to see when Roz was at her work as a lady's maid. You got to see all the political dynamics within a noble house and I always find that very interesting. I also really loved the scenes where she was working on her dressmaker's apprenticeship, there are so many nice little details and character moments.

As much as I went into this thinking it would be a historical fantasy, the magical side of it is relatively underplayed. I get the feeling that the previous novels have more direct fantasy content but this little but more subtle to me, like almost magical realism. It's all to do with little charms to clean linens or healing charms etc. There are much bigger, more obvious magic mentioned but this book doesn't dive into those as much. 

I really enjoyed the slow unravelling of the plot, and the calm, steady pacing. It built-up tension in both the 'main' plot and all the relationships, leaving you on the edge of your seat. I loved the way everything tied together at the end and all the little domestic details of the book. Floodtide is a wonderful novel and one which has really interested me in discovering more of the Alpennia world.
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‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones is a historical fiction story, set in a land where magic and mystery has its place. Told from the point of view of a teenage servant girl, it lets the reader see all echelons of society, and how they deal with an impending flood - and the serious health and societal implications it brings. Roz was dismissed from her previous job as a laundry maid after being reported for indulging in indecent acts with another young woman. What looks like the worst thing that could happen turns out to be the start of a new life, with its share of challenges - but with new friends and a new purpose.

I was transported to another place and time by the author. Heather Rose Jones has a talent for meticulous world-building and her writing shows intelligence and a flair for her craft. The story was beautifully teased out, with secrets we get to know as Roz does. Roz was an interesting character. She knew what she could expect from life but there were some things she was willing to defy expectations for.  And that could get her into a lot of trouble. Liking girls was always going to be a problem - but she wasn’t the only one. The hierarchy of society was integral to this story, and adding that to the idea of charms and mysteries made it a fascinating read. The word that comes to mind when finishing this book is exquisite. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.
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