Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a gritty fantasy that takes on themes of classism, oppression, and assault. (Including sexual assault, with a printed warning before you start reading. The rapes happen offstage, but I would advise any reader to have all their spoons in a row before they tackle this.) The book's themes include finding hope in the midst of despair, and love in the midst of horror--the central romance is between two of the Paper Girls, the king's concubines, and is both tender and sensual. Natasha Ngan has a very fluid, lyrical prose style, and both her descriptions and action scenes flow wonderfully.
Having said that, the narrator, Lei, is not...the most compelling protagonist, shall we say. Her lover, Wren, is the more interesting character, and I wish we could have had some chapters from Wren's POV. But this book leaves several threads dangling, so perhaps we will get this in the next installment.
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