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The Bear and the Rose

Book cover of The Bear and the Rose. Red-haired and black-haired woman surrounded by a bear and a rose. Soft drawing.

The Bear and the Rose

by E. K. Larson-Burnett

Find out more here: E. K. on GoodReads

I picked up this book after reading a tagline somewhere stating "bi's and bears" and that was all I needed to know, lol! I had no idea what I was about to read, but I was not left disappointed.

This story is a lot of things. It's a romance, or a love story, I'm undecided. It's full-on queer. It's Celtic mythology and fantasy. It's lots of grief and desperation. It's poetic and different. It's very simple, but full of layers.

I was hooked from the description of Bearslayer - the warrior woman and protector of a small village - who has bones in her hair and blood on her hands.

She's fierce and stubborn but under her grimy and rough exterior is a woman full of worry and yearning. She yearns to break free of the cage she's placed herself in with the title of Bearslayer, but is afraid of what she'll then become if she isn't Bearslayer. Who'll protect the village from the rampaging wraith/zombie-bears if not her??

When she then falls head over feet for a bear-shifter... oh well, drama...

I really enjoyed the Celtic lore in the story. There are gods, mythology, and creatures weaved into a telling that hovers in a fantasy setting. The prose was beautiful and captivating, yet also fun with a kick of dry humor.

I was fully engrossed in Bearslayer's journey and loved her development through the story. The mental health struggles were nicely incorporated and showed how even the most fierce and physically strong can battle with fear and anxiety with good and bad coping mechanisms. Our Bearslayer is bisexual, but the love story is sapphic and wonderfully, heartbreakingly sweet. It's definitely a "insta-lust/love" situation, and it's written incredibly sweet with the angst, devotion, and obsession of young first love (though the characters are adults).

The story as a whole moved fast though the writing still held a slow and pondering quality. I fairly enjoyed the straightforwardness of the plot and how seemingly every character acted extremely human in their own selfish, harsh, wholesome, or stupid way.

For fans of Celtic mythology, sweet romance, and queer representative this is definitely worth giving a go!

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