Wednesday 17 July 2019

Blog Tour: Review for Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan 
Publisher: Hodder
Release: 11th July 2019 (paperback)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, LGBT+ romance
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


"Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honour they could hope for...and the most demeaning. This year, there's a ninth. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after - the girl with the golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, Lei 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."

Do you ever read the synopsis of a book and immediately know you’re going to love it? That’s what happened to me with Girls of Paper and Fire. From the lush fantasy world rich with Asian culture, to the f/f slow burn romance, to the feminist take on concubine palace life, I was here for it all and Natasha Ngan delivered!

Girls of Paper and Fire takes a trope that’s been done many times in fantasy and gives it a much needed diverse, feminist revamp. I loved the characters, the demon castes, the culture, the political intrigue and court life. I loved how the magic and history of the world was still fully realized despite our main character being trapped in the palace, something that lesser writers would find hard to pull off, but Ngan executes flawlessly. This book just encapsulated so many of my personal preferences that I like to see in books.

However this book is by no means an easy read and should be read with a trigger warning for rape, physical and emotional abuse, animal cruelty and bestiality but what I really respected about Ngan’s handling of these topics is how our main character Lei doesn’t come away from these traumas unscathed. I feel like so many times in fantasy books the heroine is the only character who somehow manages to avoid abuse by using her wits, striking up a friendship with her captor or “being different from other girls” a message that has never sat well with me and I feel sends a harmful message on the “types” of girls who are abused. I really appreciated how Natasha Ngan wasn’t afraid to show exactly what life is like as a paper girl through her main character Lei’s own personal experiences. Although it was brutal, it felt real and honest to what so many girls go through in our own world.

Overall Girls of Paper and Fire is an accessible, important and diverse fantasy story. The ending was so intense that I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I read those final few pages. This is one of my new favourite books and I can not wait to read Girls of Storm and Shadow.

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