In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
This isn’t the kind of book you fall in love with. It’s the kind of book that MAKES you love it. I’d heard about this book here and there; my interest peaked since it sounded really good, but I simply didn’t get around to it. A few glowing reviews surfaced and I decided I would give it a try. Before I start trigger warnings: sexual violence, which is not just a single moment but basically a theme throughout the book, abuse, and there’s a really gorey scene towards the end.
The writing was something that really stuck out to me. It was so strong and so good. I don’t like to judge books too early, but even from the first chapter I knew this one was going to be a smash hit. I don’t think I can stress enough how strong of a writer Natasha Ngan is. It’s incredible.
I was wary going into this one due the blending of human and animals. Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Shiver just didn’t do it for me and I haven’t liked a book like that since. This one was done well. I actually liked the animal aspects and I think they really add a deeper meaning to the story.
I want to say this was a set up book, but it wasn’t. It was, it just doesn’t read like one. Even the most mundane things are interesting. It takes a bit for things to really pick up, but I didn’t find myself feeling bored or wanting thing to get on with it. I was content to learn about court life with Lei and get antiquated with all the characters.
I loved Lei. She was such a well written character that she feels really real to me. Her character development was very subtle, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. This book is epitome of strength doesn’t have to come from sword fights and battles. Rebellion can come in a quieter form.
The romance. Oh, the romance. It’s such a wonderful f/f relationship. It progresses exactly like it would have if had been a man and a woman and I think that was my favorite part. I’ve read romance plot lines that are so similar to this with a m/f couple, that it was so cool and so special to see it happen with two girls. I can’t wait to see how they progress and grow with each other in the next book!
The ending before the epilogue was beautiful. I think it wrapped up the story wonderfully and left you with a sense of wonderment, with a sense of hope, which is one of the points the book tries to get across. I think the epilogue ruined it to some extent. I think it would have been better if it was left out and discovered in the second book, since what happened has been done so. many. times. This book was so original and so new, that I didn’t like this development.
Nevertheless, this book was amazing. I recommend VERY highly. It deserves all the hype which it hasn’t been getting. I don’t know why everyone isn’t talking about this one, since it’s such an amazing story.
Thank you for reading!