A Canada Reads 2014 Top 40 Book
In this stunning debut novel, Amber Dawn subverts and transgresses the classic hero's quest adventure to create a dark post-feminist vision not for the faint of heart. Sub Rosa's reluctant heroine is known as "Little," a teenaged runaway unable to remember her real name; in her struggle to get by in the world, 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 Sub Rosa through a maze of feral darkness, both real and imagined--a calling burdened with grotesque enemies, strange allies, and memories from a foggy past.
Written with a kind of gasping urgency, Sub Rosa is a beautiful and gutsy allegory of our times, a fairy-tale-like fantasia imbued with a grave, unapologetic realness.
Praise for Sub Rosa:
Amber Dawn's Sub Rosa is a masterpiece of imagination. It's haunting, chilling at points and then just so sweet. Her writing is stealthy andseductive, wise and witty and clever. Lock Mary Gaitskill in a closet with Francesca Lia Block and they might emerge with a map to Sub Rosa: a glorious mystery that creeps you out and then totally enchants.
Michelle Tea, author of Valencia and Rose of No Man's Land
The lost girls of Amber Dawn's debut novel are much closer to us than Neverland ... Little leads us into the liminal, between recurring dreams and eroding nightmares, just past that alley, two blocks from where you live. Familiar and astonishing, darkly intoxicating, Sub Rosa is a Goblin Market for the 21st century.
Hiromi Goto, author of Chorus of Mushrooms.