Book Review: Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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3 magical, multicultural, interwoven stars

Burning Roses was about… every retelling you could possibly ask for. 😂 Mostly, Hou Yi as a woman and Little Red Riding Hood with a rifle. Throw in a little Puss in Boots, Goldilocks, Beauty and the Beast, and honestly I’m not sure if that is all. Anyway, as a novella, I’m sure it is clear that a lot was going on here.

I enjoyed this book, because I loved the intermingling of stories from multiple cultures, and adding more representation to it. It was a short piece filled with action, so it was quite easy to read and enjoy. However, because there was so much going on, I think that it overshadowed what Huang was trying to do here. Especially since they are all such well known tales that at some moments it felt a little drawn out.

Each retelling piece happened so fast, that it just felt like I was rereading some childrens books more than a modern retelling. I think for the length there wasn’t enough time to add in quite as many fairytales as there are. Perhaps if there was more space to flesh out all of these stories, it wouldn’t have felt so simplistic in the retellings, and it could have been more creative. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I definitely want more before I can feel completely satisfied with it.

Burning Roses was fun, and wove together many different fairytales from multiple different cultures, while adding more diverse representation, which was super cool! I liked the overarching story and how the characters told stories within the story. But I couldn’t help feeling like it needed to be fleshed out more.

SL Huang is a Hugo-winning and Amazon-bestselling author who justifies an MIT degree by using it to write eccentric mathematical superhero fiction. Huang is the author of the Cas Russell novels from Tor Books, including Zero Sum Game, Null Set, and Critical Point, as well as the new fantasy Burning Roses. In short fiction, Huang’s stories have appeared in AnalogF&SF, Nature, and more, including numerous best-of anthologies. Huang is also a Hollywood stunt performer and firearms expert, with credits including “Battlestar Galactica” and “Top Shot.” Find SL Huang online at or on Twitter as @sl_huang.