Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
CW: animal cruelty, rape, slavery, prostitution, abuse, graphic violence
I’M BACK AFTER A LONG EXCURSION IN TARTARUS YAY! I apologize for my long absence but now I can finally say that I’m back to setting fire to the book blogging world! These past few weeks have been difficult (see: my twitter rants) and I’m so glad I finally have some time to rest and get back on track.
For my not-so-grand comeback, I’m going to share to you my review of Girls and Paper and Fire which is also my very first physical ARC!!! Thank you so much to Mars, a bookdragon I met on Twitter, who sent this copy to me despite of the golden shipping fee. This world definitely needs more dragons like you who support international bloggers. *sends chocolates your way*
I know y’all missed my book ramblings so I’ll get started now.
THOUGHTS ON GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE:
• It exercises the imagination
Natasha Ngan’s writing style is so descriptive that my eyes almost watered with the mentions of pretty dresses and court architecture. There is also a whole demon race in this book and my brain got an unexpected workout when I tried to imagine what they look like. I’m not really good at imagining bizarre creatures but I do try. Poor brain.
Girls of Paper and Fire is also full of Asian culture references which absolutely added 100 years to my life, gave me clear skin, and made all of my internal organs function properly. MY ASIAN HEART IS SO FULL AND GRATEFUL.
Your brain will surely form vivid images of the world Natasha Ngan has created and believe me, you will be in complete awe.
• Set aside, patriarchy
This book is dominated by females AND I’M 100% HERE FOR THIS. It has its share of angry, snarky and stabby girls and I couldn’t stop rooting for them. In case you didn’t know, Girls of Paper and Fire also features an f/f romance and I just looove Lei and Wren’s chemistry. They’re a lovely pair who wants to burn the patriarchy to ashes and I will gladly offer up my life to join this cause. WHERE DO I SIGN UP MY QUEENS?
• Hullo darkness my old friend
Girls of Paper and Fire is a gripping book which has a lot of dark themes (see: content warnings above). I do love dark fantasies but it was still painful to read about the Paper Girls’ sufferings and the violent discrimination the humans are experiencing in the book. The Demon King’s abusive behavior and his manipulate attitude is compelling and I commend Natasha Ngan for creating such a formidable villain. I still want to throttle him and feed him to my demon familiars though.
• It was just a bit slow-paced
This is my only issue with this book. The chapters filled with Paper Girl training just dragged on and I wanted more action and knives + more stabbing the Demon King content. I love the underlying court intrigue though and I’m looking forward to more of it in the next book.
• WHERE IS THE SECOND BOOK
Speaking of the next book, I NEED IT NOW. The ending made me squeal and I want to know what my queens will be up to the next time. I’m not expecting too much but I’m looking forward to a dragon appearance in the next book. What is life even like if I don’t look for dragons in every book I read???
Girls of Paper and Fire comes out on November 6 and I hope y’all are going to support this gem. It’s also available on pre-order now and you can check this out for more details. I’m really looking forward to its release because I want to shriek about this book with y’all.
It’s so good to be back to blogging again! I’ve been gone for so long and I have lots of things to catch up to. What have you been up to lately? What are you currently reading? Also, leave some Asian SFF recs below because I really need more of them in my life!