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.
In Burning Roses, S. L. Huang treats a fairy tale as merely the prologue to the rest of a life ... Huang’s characterization of both Rosa and Hou Yi is impeccable. Rarely in fiction or fairy tales do we see two protagonists who are queer, older women of color. Both women are a complex synthesis of fairytale archetypes—hero, hunter, and villain are each represented at different points in both their lives, and they reveal their multiplicities to one another in long conversations over the course of their journey. Burning Roses highlights the joys in peeking into older characters’ lives—far from dismissing or simplifying them, the story pulls generously and compassionately from their lifetimes.
... perfectly epic, even in the span of a novella. Huang’s [...] use of threads from many different stories creates a satisfying backdrop, and presents the reader with familiar plot tropes from an entirely new perspective. It’s an excellent piece of work, and Huang is clearly an author to watch.
Huang (Critical Point) dazzles in this dark, diverse fairy tale remix ... The quest to stop Feng Ming, and Rosa and Hou Yi’s parallel stories of reconciliation with the families they lost in their adventures are expertly woven, giving this slim volume an epic feel. Fantasy fans won’t want to miss this.