In The Roses of Pieria by Anna BurkeIn The Roses of Pieria by Anna Burke is an awesome mashup of dark academia, fantasy, horror, mythology, folklore, and a delightful sapphic romance.

Clara Eden felt like she won the lottery on that memorable day when she was offered a job as an archivist at Agatha Montague’s estate. She thinks that her wildest dreams have come true because she has the honor of translating documents and preserving artifacts pertaining to an ancient civilization that she has put a lot of time and effort into studying and teaching. Soon enough, Clara gets completely sucked into her work and she becomes enchanted by an amorous correspondence that’s over two thousand years old. Even though she enjoys her job and the perks that come with it—Clara is questioning the deep feelings she has for her employer’s personal assistant, Fiadh, and she has a funny feeling that Agatha Montague isn’t the person she portrays herself to be. Whenever an opportunity seems too good to be true, it usually comes with a steep personal price and unfortunately for Clara, it’s a price that she may be unable to pay because there’s nowhere for her to run or hide when she finally discovers the truth.


Once again, Anna Burke has blown my mind with another fantastic and well-written novel. It’s dark academia at its finest and she’s made it hella sapphic. Even though the beginning was a bit slow for me, In The Roses of Pieria turned out to be one of the most intense, immersive and heart-tugging speculative fiction novels that I’ve ever read and I couldn’t get enough of it because the world building was brilliant. I just love how the story unfolded through Clara’s eyes because I got to experience her deepest thoughts and emotions when her life changed from being an underpaid adjunct professor to getting the opportunity of a lifetime doing translation and archival work for her new, prestigious employer. Plus, I’m tipping my coffee mug to the author because she has created an enthralling story filled with long-held secrets, ancient grudges and betrayals and a haunting love story that was immortalized in letters that blurred the line between the past and the present.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

Is there anything better than binge reading a riveting sapphic horror that features vampires, fungal fae, plant magic and other supernatural beings? As a nerdy lesbian book lover, I can boldly say that there’s absolutely nothing else I’d rather do because I’ve spent an entire weekend devouring this story. There are so many reasons why I really enjoyed this novel but this is my main one—the translations of the letters between Gata and Natek were filled with so much sadness, loneliness, passion and an endless longing for a love that defies all odds. Just like Clara, I got so caught up in the correspondence between the two women because the language was divine and I felt as though I was experiencing everything that Gata and Natek went through. Plus, there were several times when I didn’t even want to put my kindle down to go to sleep because there were so many shocking revelations that happened one after the other. I didn’t need sleep, I needed answers!

I’m suffering from a serious book hangover right now and I wished that I could have spent more time with Fiadh and Clara because Anna Burke really brought them to life for me. I just love how the characters were portrayed—especially Clara and Fiadh—with their unique personalities and attitudes and the way they interacted with each other and the other important people in their lives. I’m not ashamed to admit that I became heavily invested in their relationship because it gave me all the feels and I was rooting for them from their first meeting until the last page. I hope that I won’t have to wait too long for the sequel to this awesome story because I’ll have no choice but to stage a one-woman protest in my living room.

Heads Up

Just so you know, there are a few scenes that contain graphic descriptions of blood, gore, mind control, forced confinement, physical assault and emotional trauma.

The Conclusion

aprils favourite booksI would recommend this captivating novel to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy romance with mythical creatures and lots of ominous undercurrents embedded within it. This story will definitely go on my list of favorite rereads because I’m a huge fan of dark academia novels that take me on emotional rollercoaster rides with the main protagonists. I think I pulled off the greatest reading marathon of all time when I devoured this story in two days! I was hooked on this story from the moment that I realized there were two love stories going on—one that began over two thousand years ago and the other one that was slowly blossoming between Clara and Fiadh. Overall, this was an engrossing and satisfying read and I can’t wait to see what Anna Burke does next.

Excerpt from In The Roses of Pieria by Anna Burke

“Ah, Clara, I presume?” She had a low, husky voice, and a face I couldn’t decide to categorize as plain or gorgeous or something in between. I settled on the word compelling, thinking of Fiadh, and then realized I couldn’t even place Agatha’s ethnicity. Her age was equally unclear. Thirties? Forties?

“Ms. Montague?”

“Call me Agatha, please.”

“I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“Not at all.” She stood and dusted off her hands. At her fullest height, she came to my chin, but I had the sensation I was the one looking up at her. Her eyes had gravity, though they were as colorless as the leaves. “It’s a lovely night for a stroll.”

“And too hot to sleep,” I added.

“Indeed. That’s one of the reasons I prefer gardening at night.”

Her hair was up in a business-like bun, but a few tendrils curled around her ears and neck, collecting starlight. She didn’t look the way I thought the head of a business empire ought to look. I’d expected… I wasn’t sure. Someone I’d feel good about hating. I knew I couldn’t call her out for hoarding information, at least not as long as I wanted to keep my job, but I could have nursed a private hatred on behalf of the lower classes, if nothing else. It was funny how people needed their enemies to look like enemies. What did it matter that Agatha didn’t look like elite scum, standing in her garden smock with dirt on her hands?

“You have lovely gardens,” I said, somewhat lamely.

“Thank you. Do you garden?”

“I’ve kept a few houseplants alive.”

“An accomplishment. Most people cannot. How do you like the cottage?”

“It’s beautiful.”

“And the work?”

Here was the opening I couldn’t take. Even so, I hesitated before saying, “Absolutely fascinating. Your collection. It’s… well, the artifacts from Nektopolis alone are incredible.”

“It’s hard to find a fellow enthusiast.”

“Your odds are better than normal, this close to Brixton University,” I said.

“I admit I may have stacked those odds in my favor.” She winked. “There are benefits to wealth.”

“You help fund the program?” I didn’t mean to blurt out the question, as it seemed rude, but perhaps that was just my own financial insecurity talking.

“I do,” she said.

“Oh. Well, uh, thank you.” It was possible her donations had paid for my education—a prospect I found uncomfortable.

“I should be thanking you. Fiadh has kept me abreast of your progress. She isn’t normally so free with her praise.”

The compliment overwhelmed my capacity for speech. Agatha seemed to guess this was the case, and spared me the embarrassment of silence. She turned to examine a rose. Its scent permeated the night air, heady and wild. “You are welcome to cut a few flowers for personal use, though be careful of the thorns on the roses. This one has particularly small, fine thorns. Quite painful.”

To illustrate her point, she frowned at her bare fingertip as if it hurt her.

The roses reminded me of Gata and Natek.

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Series: The Blood Files

In The Roses of Pieria: Book 1

Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1612942735

Publisher: Bywater Books

Anna Burke Online

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