Monday, 30 December 2019

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Review: Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

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Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Published: 5th November 2019 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Source: Publisher
Natasha Ngan's Website

In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn't the end of the plan---it's just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei's head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?
From Goodreads.

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My other reviews of the Girls of Paper and Fire Trilogy:
Girls of Paper and Fire

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

I was sent this proof for free from Hodder & Stoughton for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Rep: Malaysian characters (A high fantasy world inspired by Malaysia). No labels, but there is an f/f relationship involving the protagonist and a secondary character, and an m/m relationship involving secondary characters.



Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan was one of my favourite books of last year; I absolutely adored it! So it's no surprise that I was incredibly excited to read the sequel, Girls of Storm and Shadow. And it didn't disappoint, it was brilliant!

Lei believes she has killed the king, and war is stirring. She and Wren have joined a rag-tag group of humans and demons, warriors and shamans, to go on a mission for Lord Hanno, Wren's adoptive father, to gain the allegiance of certain demon clans. They have a long way to travel, and very little time before the Ikharan officials and military mobilise and war begins. But Lei has misgivings about about Lord Hanno and his plans, and it seems she doesn't know Wren as well as she thought she did. With time and the Ikharan army nipping at their heels, Lei must push her doubts aside if she wants to survive. But she might have just got herself into more than she bargained for.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is in some ways quite difference from the first book in the series. There is a plan, there is a war to plan for, their is hope. It almost feels like a story in two parts; the first involving the travelling and meeting new clans, alliances made and strategic manoeuvres, Lei and the readers getting to know the new characters in her group and those she meets. It's similar to the high fantasy books I read when I was growing up - the quests that sending the characters across the country. The second part is where things get far more serious, and my god, is there a lot of action! It's fast-paced and terrible, frightening and overwhelming, but also bloody brilliant!

But this book is also as completely heartbreaking as the first. There's so little that I can say without spoiling things, but with this book, Ngan really punched me in the gut. There are twists I didn't see coming, things that happened that were "necessary" that are so very difficult to bear. Let me tell you, there are some characters in this book who I had a complete 180 on - characters I loved that I now loathe. There are betrayals, things that are absolutely unforgivable, and I am raging. If there is an overarching theme to this book, it's the question of what is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to war? Is there even such a thing as unacceptable when you're fighting for freedom? How far are you willing to go to win? What is the cost? The lines between good and evil blur in this book, and Ngan does a fantastic job of throwing an emotional spanner in the works. Lei is in turmoil, but so am I. This book knocked me for six in a way I can't explain, and I am not ok, and I cannot forgive.

The ending! Girls of Storm and Shadow ends on such a cliffhanger! A terrible, awful cliffhanger! My heart is in shreds, but to be honest, I really don't think there's any good way this book could end. I am completely devastated, several times over. I have absolutely no idea where this story will go next, and I'm absolutely desperate to know! I do have a feeling, however, that something will happen to change our feelings towards certain characters, to make us feel positively towards them again, but I honestly don't think that's possible for me. To be fair, Ngan is a master storyteller, because everything is just so complicated now, including my feelings for certain characters, and it's not like she's decided to have characters do things completely out of character. I get it. I get what's happening here. But knowing what's going on doesn't excuse things, and I'm just so devastated, because, for me, everything has gone up in flames.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is just as incredible and just as heartbreaking as the first book, if in different ways. My heart has been battered, and I'm really, really not ok. And I think things are just going to get worse before they get better. But I kind of love it, at the same time. It's just fantastic! I am so excited for the third and final book in this trilogy!

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the proof.

You might also like:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri Crier's War by Nina Varela

Over to you graphic
Do you enjoy high fantasies that put your emotions through the wringer? What are your thoughts on books that blur the line of good and evil - that show a grey area in war? Have you read Girls of Storm and Shadow? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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