Hello Gemmies! I have an exciting book review to share with you today. Please note: I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Burning Roses is a new dark fantasy novella by S.L. Huang. S.L. Huang seamlessly weaves together different western fairytales, Asian folklore, and magic into one intriguingly delightful tale! This story is so creative, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Let me start with the characters because that is really where this novella shines. Burning Roses is an extremely well written character driven story. We meet our two main protagonists Rosa and Hou Yi as they go on a quest to stop monstrous firebirds from attacking villages throughout the countryside. During the quest both women must face their own personal demons and come to terms with the mistakes of their past. The first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that both Rosa and Hou Yi are middle aged. You almost never encounter a middle aged female lead in a fantasy story, let alone two. But don't let the age fool you, these ladies are smart, brave, and all around bad ass. I found them both to be relatable and complex especially as they try to come to terms with the bad decisions that brought them to where they are today.
The sisterhood between Rosa and Hou Yi is also very beautifully done. This is a cautionary tale to not let past betrayals and bad decisions taint your future or destroy your family. You cannot heal past hurts until you are ready to be honest with yourself and those that you love. There are so many lessons to unpack with this story. The world building takes a slight back seat to the characters but not enough to take away from the story. We still get plenty of magic, animals that shift to human, and various monstrous creatures.
If you are a fan of fairytale retellings, family drama, magic, redemption stories, sisterhood, and kick ass heroines then go read this book! This gem published by Tor.Com is set to release on September 29, 2020 and is available for pre-order from all major booksellers. I give Burning Roses 4 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait for this story to be out in the world for all to read. Happy Reading!