Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

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 middle age, into a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you to Tordotcom Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! Burning Roses was released on September 29, 2020. 

When Tor.com started promoting Burning Roses earlier this year I immediately wanted to read it. Look at that cover! Read the plot summary! Everything about it sounds excellent.

Overall Burning Roses is an enjoyable novella but I felt let down in a few parts. Let’s start with what I loved. Huang does an amazing job bringing new life to old stories and blending them together in ways I haven’t seen before. Rosa was my favourite character in the novella and makes the story in my opinion.

However I find Burning Roses suffers from needing a longer format to tease out parts of the story. I mainly prefer novellas that tell a contained story in a short period of time. The Robin Hood Stories novella duology by Carrie Vaughn is a good example of this format as each novella recounts the events of a single day. Or the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells where each novella is a contained event that connects to the larger story

Hou Yi’s story feels a bit off because we only learn about it from what she tells Rosa. Rosa is the pov character so we learn her story through flashbacks. But in Hou Yi’s story only coming to light with the bits and pieces she tells Rosa, it feels a bit like the characters are acting for reasons that aren’t very strong or well put together. It dilutes the reasoning and emotions behind the characters choices and makes it kinda anti-climatic.

Burning Roses was still an enjoyable novella that people should still check out if they’re interested in a new take on fairy tales. However I don’t think it’s one I’d reread.

Goodreads | Author Website | Bookshop.org

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