Monday 10 January 2022

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Review: Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan (#Ad)

Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan

I was received this eProof for free from Hodder& Stoughton via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

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Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan

Published: 23rd November 2021 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Source: NetGalley
Natasha Ngan on Twitter

"Don't struggle, Lei-zhi. It's time to take you back to the Hidden Palace. You're going home." The final pages of Girls of Storm and Shadow brought a jaw-dropping conclusion that had the fates of Lei and Wren hanging in uncertainty. But one thing was certain - the Hidden Palace was the last place that Lei would ever consider home. The trauma and tragedy she suffered behind those opulent walls would plague her forever. She could not be trapped there with the sadistic king again, especially without Wren. The last Lei saw of the girl she loved, Wren was fighting an army of soldiers in a furious battle to the death. With the two girls torn apart and each in terrorizing peril, will they find each other again or have their destinies diverged forever? From The StoryGraph.

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The StoryGraph | Goodreads

My other reviews of Girls of Paper and Fire Trilogy:
Girls of Paper and FireGirls of Storm and Shadow

WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.

I've been sitting on writing my review of Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan for a while now. It's been difficult to know exactly what to write. This isn't the kind of book where I can just talk about plot, characters, pacing, etc. like I normally would (though obviously they're brilliant, as I knew they would be going on the previous two books in the trilogy, or I'd be writing a very different review). Because this trilogy is so much more than just a story to me. As a sexual assault survivor, it's very close to my heart, and I anticipated this third and final book eagerly, but for more than just seeing how things would turn out, but also for a kind of closure, I guess. Lei has been fighting the person who hurt her, which I was never able to do, and I was looking forward to her triumphing. And I wasn't disappointed.

Before I get too much into how emotional this book was for me, there are a few other things I should touch on. When I finished Girls of Storm and Shadow, I was absolutely livid with Wren. Enough time had gone by that I had forgotten mostly why I was so amad at her, but thankfully these things were briefly covered in the book. Girls of Fate and Fury is narrated by both Lei and Wren, which I think was a very clever move on Ngan's part. I didn't finish the book having forgiven Wren for the terrible things she had done, and in some cases, continued to do, but I understood her. She has been brought up by her asopted father her whole life for the very purpose of defeating the Demon King. Her father, Ketai, is quite cold and calculated - which we knew, considering he gave Wren up to being a paper girl knowing full well she would be raped by the King - but we actually see more of what this looks like. Wren believes this is her duty, and making her father proud is almost the only thing that matters to her. She's done what she knows her father would say needed to be done. There is a bigger picture here, and defeating the King is the goal, by any means necessary, whatever the cost. Ketai had a fanatical obsession, and he forged Wren into his weapon. A lot of the things Wren did still don't sit right with me, but I understand her more. I understand why she did those things, and how she could believe there was no other choice. Still, I really don't know how certain characters were able to be in the same room as her by the end of the book.

When Girls of Storm and Shadow had ended, Lei had been caught and was to be taken back to the Hidden Palace. Girls of Fate and Fury starts with her there. I have to say I was horrified at her being caught, and was dreading the things she might go through in this book. But Lei is not who she once was. There is a fire in her, a determination to do whatever damage she can, to get out, so save her friends. Time and again, she is put in impossible situation after impossible situation, where it would be so easy just to give in to despair. But she is not alone, and there are others to protect, and her strength sees her through. That's not to say she's not fearful, or that she isn't living constantly on edge, waiting for a blow that's sure to come. Or that it doesn't take more than you could imagine to be in the presence of the King. But there is a bigger picture. While she's there, whatever she can learn could be helpful for when she gets out - and she will get out, along with the other paper girls, because you can't let herself imagine any other possibility. She is on a mission, and despite how dire her situation is, she doesn't lose sight of what they're all fighting for, and it's what keeps her going. And I was in complete and utter awe of her the entire time.

Girls of Fate and Fury is a fast paced book, and a lot goes on. It's full of action, and strategising. Characters we love return, and charcters are lost. For those who are reading just for a high fantasy story, it ticks all the boxes as the tension builds to the climax. For me, it was also hugely emotional. Because while there is this bigger picture, it's also very personal. For Lei, for Wren, for the other paper girls. It's a fight for justice, and seeing that justice handed out. I honestly cannot find the words to describe how I felt reading those final chapters. There was triumph, and anger, and vicious joy, and relief, and a hollow emptiness, and, still, the loss. But then hope and joy and love. I got to live vicariously through Lei, but healing isn't necessarily over once there is justice. Lei is getting there, though, and I'm getting there, and these books have helped immeasurably.

I'm never going to be able to fully articulate what these books mean to me. Nor can I ever thank Natasha Ngan enough for these incredible books. They have, internally, changed my life, and I can't give any higher praise than that.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley for the eProof.

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