In this stunning, Lambda Literary Award-winning debut novel, Amber Dawn subverts the classic hero's quest adventure to create a dark post-feminist vision. Sub Rosa's reluctant heroine is a teenaged runaway named "Little"; she stumbles upon an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and would-be johns: a place called Sub Rosa. Not long after she is initiated into this family of magical prostitutes, Little is called upon to lead them through a maze of feral darkness: a calling burdened with grotesque enemies, strange allies, and memories from a foggy past. Sub Rosa is a beautiful, gutsy, fantastical allegory of our times.
The Sub Rosa of this convoluted, heavy-handed debut's novel title is "a secret street of magical working girls," known as "Glories," magnificent women with no recollection of their pasts who help "live ones" from the city regain a measure of beauty in their lives. Into this world comes Little, a down-on-her-luck runaway. Captivated by the splendor of her new home, Little is glad to forget her old life. But when Sub Rosa is threatened by a rebellious Glory, Little, who longs to prove herself, must embark on a quest into the Dark, a threatening realm just beyond Sub Rosa where Glories are first trained. There, Little encounters Jellyfish, a former Glory who poses profound and terrifying questions, which force Little to decide whether happy oblivion is worth the price of her freedom to remember and to be herself. The transgressive fairy tale aspect grows tiresome long before the predictable moral of the story is revealed. Meanwhile, the internal logic of Sub Rosa becomes increasingly strained, its mythology difficult to sustain, its inhabitants difficult to care about.
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Sub Rosa - Amber Dawn
Enchanting from beginning to end.