Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+
Publisher: Hachette Australia
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.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual Abuse and Violence
(Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my thoughts or opinions on this book.)
I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, how amazing does it sound purely from the synopsis??? So yes, I bumped this book right up the top of my TBR and picked it up on my holiday, and boy did it not disappoint.
So let’s start with the main character, Lei. Lei was probably my favourite part of the entire story, not going to lie. I just loved her character so much. Like, you know when you really enjoy a story but the main character isn’t the best? Yeah, this wasn’t one of those times. Lei was such a strong, determined, resilient and selfless character, and just in this 380-page book, we see her grow so much. I loved her story and her fight, and I just really enjoyed following her in this book.
The world itself was really intriguing, and although we didn’t get a whole lot of backstory or details about the world, it didn’t feel lacking, if that makes any sense? I thought the author gave the reader just enough information to follow along with the story smoothly, and I appreciated that. Some books throw too much information at the reader that it can become overwhelming, so I was glad that this was not one of those times. I was hooked by the story and the characters, to the point where I was struggling to put the book down.
The only negative thing I have to say about this book has to do with the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the relationship between the two characters (no spoilers), but it felt a little forced to me. There just wasn’t really any build up of their emotions or relationship, it just felt like one minute they weren’t even speaking to each other, and then the next they were in love? I don’t know, to me, it kind of felt like the author pushed them together without much thought in building their relationship first.
But overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It was fast-paced, full of action and drama, and intriguing characters and a world that you can’t help but get lost in. I’m definitely intrigued to see where the story goes in the next book!
Have you read this book yet? What were your thoughts?
Until next time,