Book Review: Burning Roses

S. L. Huang

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 29th September 2020
spoilers? no


A gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, for fans of Zen Cho and JY Yang.

When Rosa (aka Red Riding Hood) and Hou Yi the Archer join forces to stop the deadly sunbirds from ravaging the countryside, their quest will take the two women, now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of age, into a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: past abuse

Burning Roses is a beautiful little retelling of a number of fairytales all mixed together. It follows two older women, Rosa and Hou Yi, as they hunt down Hou Yi’s old apprentice, who is ravaging the countryside in an attempt to force confrontation. Throughout the journey, they each confess to the other the regrets they have in their lives.

You know how, with novellas, it can be a bit hit-and-miss whether one works as its own self-contained story, but this one does it so well. The plot itself is simple, but the way it is used as a vehicle for the characters to reflect on their lives, the mistakes they have made and the ways they have tried to atone, is excellent.

And overall I loved the main characters. I think possibly one weakness of this (on account of it’s a novella) is that the side characters are much less fleshed out. But as I said, it’s a novella, and it’s also a novella that primarily does focus on these two characters (and the antagonist), so as much as I wanted more of the side characters, it’s not exactly a major gripe of mine.

In the end, then, this is a novella that I would urge everyone to preorder. Not least because it’s sapphic (but that too).


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