Review: Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

Hey all, Dani here.

How is it Monday again already? Seriously, where is the time going? Okay…so I have to say this…I’m getting very concerned about things again. Not the blog or my reading or anything. Just the general offline life. Places are starting to reinstitute mask policies and social distancing mandates, and I’ve seen some events being cancelled again as the Delta variant sweeps across the world. I’m getting concerned that AGAIN I’m going to have to postpone my wedding. Thankfully Damian and I already went and did a small courthouse ceremony, but it’s starting to look like we should just forget having a proper ceremony with a reception and all that. I’m just so tired of having to postpone and reschedule and put my life on hold because of all of this. I’m so tired of the rampant spread of misinformation and the blind faith so many hold in these lies and manipulated “facts.”

Sorry to get all personal and rant-y, especially since there’s so many people out there who have had to make more sacrifices and bigger sacrifices to me, but I was really looking forward to a somewhat proper wedding ceremony.

Anyway, let’s just go ahead and jump into today’s review.

Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

From Hugo Award Winner S. L. Huang

“S. L. Huang is amazing.”—Patrick Rothfuss

Burning Roses is a gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, for fans of Zen Cho and Neon Yang.

Rosa, also known as Red Riding Hood, is done with wolves and woods.

Hou Yi the Archer is tired, and knows she’s past her prime.

They would both rather just be retired, but that’s not what the world has ready for them.

When deadly sunbirds begin to ravage the countryside, threatening everything they’ve both grown to love, the two must join forces. Now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, they begin a quest that’s a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

My Thoughts:

Rating: 4 stars

I love novellas but at the same time I hate novellas, and it’s the same reason for both…the length. The shorter page count makes me read through the novellas quickly, which is immensely useful for catching up on reading goals or for feeling like I’ve made a lot of progress early on in a readathon. However, the shorter page count also means that I very frequently find myself wanting more. Novellas are such an interesting writing format, and one that takes a certain amount of skill to pull off well. There’s less time to delve into the characters or the plot, and for some writers that means being unable to fully develop things. But for the writers who excel at novellas, you find yourself sucked into the story, the world, the characters quickly.

This novella does that. I grew attached to Rosa and Hou Yi fairly quickly, and very much enjoyed the bond they shared with each other.

Can I also say that I love that this fairy tail novella is not only sapphic in his romances, but it also features two leading ladies who are older, as in middle aged. So often we read stories with characters who are teenagers or on the younger side of adult. There are some fantasy tales where we get adult characters in their 30s, but it feels like that is not as frequent as the teens and young 20s. So I enjoyed getting to see a couple leading ladies who were old enough to pretty much have adult children themselves.

Both Red and Hou Yi are fascinating ladies, and I would have loved to get more with them, more of their stories, more of their pasts, more of their adventures. Yes, we get to see enough for this novella to understand how they came to be where they are, and to see why they hold certain guilts and certain regrets. It is enough fleshing out for a novella. But I was enjoying myself and so I just want more.

I have read a couple works by Zen Cho, and I own some Neon Yang that I need to pick up, so my limited experience can attest that the comparisons are true. These are lyrically written tales that weave tales of old or tales of myth together into new stories with intriguing characters and from what I’ve read so far, with nice LGBTQ+ elements as well.

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Well, that is all from me for today. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.

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