The Rose Within - A Gothic Romance


A story of passion, intrigue and mystery. Set in England in the 1920s, Jonathan Malcolm is drawn into the world of Winter Grange House encountering the love of his life Selina Selwyn. But unbeknownst to him Selina is caught in a web of enigmas that only gradually unfold. Some say Winter Grange is an estate cursed with ghosts and supernatural happenings. Will Jonathan ultimately attain his love or will it end in despair and tragedy?


“I really enjoyed the gothic vibe of the work as a whole. This made for a great atmosphere as the story unfolded page by page”

“Sana Pirzada is an excellent storyteller. She does a beautiful job of weaving various strands together that both startle and thrill readers in equal measure. The Rose Within is a wonderfully-written love story that expertly veers away from the standard love story onto a path towards the unique and intriguing”

“Envision Henry James’ classic Turn of the Screw melded with Brontë’s Wuthering Heights with a touch of Jane Eyre thrown in to a novel of mystery and uncanny supernatural romance and you begin to get a taste for what’s being served in The Rose Within, a delicious gothic romance that emphasizes elements of horror in a winding, subliminally appealing story line.

Fans of supernatural fiction, romance, and gothic horror will find much to like in The Rose Within: its attention to atmosphere and detail will leave them riveted as Jonathan descends into horror on the journey of his life, with a first-person description blending observation and reflection creating a powerhouse of a read that’s nearly impossible to put down, holding many surprise twists of plot throughout. A five-star production, The Rose Within is very highly recommended.”

Diane Donovan


Senior Editor & Reviewer of California Book-watch

“I absolutely loved this book. The story is told by the character Jonathan Malcolm using a diary format. It has so many twists and turns that many times when I thought I had the plot worked out, the writer threw me an intrigueing curve ball. The description of the characters and Winter Grange House, along with the rest of the book, are so well written I can still visualise them in my mind. It will make a great musical, and I will be the first to buy tickets.

I know I’m reviewing a book here, but you really must listen to this music by Sana on Youtube. It’s fantastic.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ now exists as history’s most profitable live entertainment franchise; the story of a troubled and enigmatic man whose quest for love is pitted against his own inner demons. For hundreds of millions of people it has been a two-hour show that has enthralled them. For author Sana Pirzada, it was life-changing.

Pirzada has long wanted to reach into Lloyd Webber’s script and reverse the plight of the Phantom, leading her to write a compelling and cinematic new gothic romance novel that loosely does exactly that.

‘The Rose Within’ takes its cues from the dark narrative of ‘The Woman in White’, the poetic prowess of Coleridge and the philosophy of Edmund Burke. The end product is one worthy of its own Broadway show.

“The book uses an epistolary narrative structure similar to that found in ‘Dracula’, for a story that is equally as powerful and shocking,” explains the author. “I wanted to write something totally unique, while continuing to capitalize on the many hallmarks of gothic fiction created by some of history’s most gifted and surprising writers. It’s a cocktail of different styles and there’s nothing else like it currently on the market.”

Continuing, “I’ve had a lifetime obsession with the Phantom and his story, and this narrative is directly tied into it. As a seasoned musician, I’ve also recorded two songs to accompany the prose that have already been sent to L.A. for vocals and mastering. My goal, within a few years, is to develop the story as a fully-fledged musical.”

Pirzada has bold plans for her work, and those with a thirst for the gothic are urged to get their hands on a copy of the book as soon as it’s released.


UK Press Release for The Rose Within

KARACHI: Few Pakistani writers have focused on gothic romance and the genre has mostly been popular among authors and readers in the West.

In an effort to revive interest in this category of literature, lawyer Sana Pirzada discussed the creative process involved in writing her debut novel, A Rose Within. The book was launched at Marriott hotel on Saturday evening.

“I found it necessary to explain the background of this novel,” said Pirzada. “Few novels in this genre have emerged from Pakistan so I wanted to take readers on a journey to understanding gothic romance and its underlying philosophy.” A Rose Within was written over the span of a year and published in the United Kingdom.

According to Pirzada, the novel fuses characteristics from novels such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

“It is the story of a literary critic named Jonathan, who travels from London to Newbury in England and settles in a house called Winter Grange,” she said. “He eventually falls in love with his landlady. But as time goes by, he realises that nothing is as it seems.”

Pirzada said that she read a large number of gothic romance novels to set the groundwork for her debut book. As a 12-year-old, the author read The Picture of Dorian Gray and was instantly drawn into its layers of mystery. “However, it was only after I studied gothic fiction that I realised the novel belonged to the genre,” she said. “With time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Phantom of the Opera also inspired me to write the book.”

Pirzada found it difficult to decide on a suitable time period in which the story would take place. “Initially, I wanted to set the novel in the 1980s,” she said. “However, I gave up on the idea as a series of technological advancements [had taken place] during this period.” After careful consideration, she decided to set the novel between the two world wars as it suited her plot. “I also visited a few old manors in England so that I could describe the architecture with accuracy,” she explained.

Pirzada added that she plans to adapt the novel for a musical. “I have already written and composed the lyrics of two songs for this production,” she said. According to her, A Rose Within will be received well in Pakistan as it explores universal themes such as mystery and suspense, which can never fail to entertain.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2016.

Told via diary entries, we learn of a young man whose good deed wins him residence at Winter Grange, an English country manner avoided by most and spoken of only in whispers by nearby townsfolk. The isolated home is occupied by aging caretakers, the saintly Lady of the house, a mysterious administrator who doubles as a nurse, and perhaps one or more ghosts. It is in these surroundings that our principled yet naive protagonist finds himself immersed in a world of past sins, present shocks, and future potential catastrophes. Before his yarn is fully spun, he experiences desire, fear, contentment, exasperation, the heights of love, and the depths of despair.

The plot is appropriately complex with frequent revelations of multi-generational wrongdoings being visited on innocent heirs. Stylistically, Pirzada has a firm grasp on the language and dialogue of the era in which her story is set. Allusions to well-known Gothic literature are dropped into the narrative to draw parallels. They are actually unnecessary as the author’s use of suspense, drama, irony, and atmosphere, compellingly capture the Gothic gestalt. If you prefer to read by candlelight on stormy nights, accompanied by a glass of red wine within easy reach, then this one’s for you.

Joe Kilgore


US Review of Books

Far too often writers get lazy and fail to do their homework, thereby making their work suffer. Pirzada is fortunately not guilty of this. She admits to having been heavily influenced by factors such as the sensual poetry of John Keats and Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. But the novel depicts more than just influence, it is imbued with the very spirit of the Gothic tradition. In spite of, or perhaps because of, being an early work it comes across as refreshingly unfettered and surprisingly authentic; even its cloying sentimentality remains fastidiously true to Gothic prototype. Far too many Pakistani authors are interested in self-consciously styling themselves as superior writers, to the point where they forget to enjoy their work and end up producing pieces that are stilted and unsatisfying. Pirzada, at this stage of her literary career at least, does not appear to have fallen into that trap, and we should be grateful for this since The Rose Within comes across as a truly engaging read. It is obvious that she had tremendous fun while writing it, and most readers can be guaranteed that they will have at least as much fun perusing its pages.

Nadia Chishty Mujahid


DAWN Books and Authors

I’m a fan of all the Gothic classics ( Wuthering heights, The Phantom of the opera etc. ) . So naturally I loved reading this book.

Sana Pirzada has marvellously captured the essence of all these Gothic tales and transformed them into a story that is truly hers.

Although this is essentially a romance novel; it does a pretty good job of keeping you mystified at all times. At every plot twist (and there are tons) you’ll keep guessing at what comes next and the outcome will leave you baffled each and every time.

The thing I loved most about “The Rose Within” was the attention given to detail.

Sana Pirzada has done a marvellous job at describing the 1920’s English countryside. Her descriptions are life-like and make you want to go back in time and live along-side the characters.

“The Rose Within” is Sana Pirzada’s first book and is to be made into a musical soon .

I wish her Good Luck in all her endeavors and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for anything she publishes in the future.

Zoe Muses


About Books

Excerpt from The Rose Within

I dreamt I was near a river. Everything around me was green, and there were pretty pink roses across the river bank. At first, my view was blurred because of the fog. Then I saw a figure emerge from the river. As I approached it, I saw that it took the form of a person. I realised it was a woman. I paused, startled, upon seeing this very imposing silhouette. She wore a white dress. At first, I felt a pang of fear, as I was all alone, but then she turned around. She clutched something tightly in her hand; when I looked closely, I saw it was a rose. It was perhaps the most ethereally beautiful rose I have ever seen; cardinal, unblemished and fully blossomed. Yet the thorns had pierced her palm and fingers; her hand was as red as the rose, blood stained. Her complexion was as pale as death, but her eyes…her eyes were blue, like sapphires. She was the woman from my earlier dreams! As I peered deeper into her blue eyes, I felt as though I was floating in an ocean; I was so free, so at peace, so full of love. I was in a trance. Then, without warning, a single tear dropped from her right eye. I was so shocked by this trace of sadness that I gaped in surprise. I think my gaze troubled her for when I next looked, she had disappeared.