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Burning Roses    by S. L. Huang order for
Burning Roses
by S. L. Huang
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

S. L. Huang's Burning Roses is noir fantasy, that takes off from well known fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots. Rosa, who used to be known as Red Riding Hood, has teamed up with Archer Hou Yi against deadly sunbirds. Though they are friends of sorts, these aging women have not shared their pasts.

We learn that Rosa was exiled for past deeds against grundwirgen (shapechangers), forced to leave behind a beloved wife and daughter. Her friend, Goldie, set her on this path and broke her. Of her own missing wife, Hou Yi only says she's 'In the moon'. Together they risk their lives every day to rid the land of ravening monsters and magical scourges.

Feng Meng, who was once Hou Yi's apprentice, is summoning dangerous sunbirds. Hou Yi feels responsible, so together they set off on his trail to the island the sunbirds inhabit. Meanwhile, the reader learns more of each of their back stories, of Hou Yi's obsession with immortality, and of the deeds for which they seek redemption.

Burning Roses is a most unusual dark fantasy. It does have a happy ending but read it and you'll never see Goldilocks the same way again.

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