This book is as amazing as everyone is saying it is!
I was lucky enough to be chosen as part of the blog tour for this book and received a gifted copy for a review.
Inspired by Natasha Ngan's Malaysian background, this book is brimming with different cultures represented by different caste systems. There are three castes - Moon (full demons representing different animals) Steel (half human and half animal demons) and Paper (humans). The fantasy world is ruled by the Moon caste, with the Demon King at the forefront. The Paper caste is the lowest of the low, left to do all the menial work and treated like slaves. The Demon King is feared by all and rules this kingdom with ferocity and evil. Every year, the Demon King is presented with eight Paper girls who are his concubines, whether they want to be or not. Lei, the girl with the golden eyes, finds herself ripped from her family and made to be part of this group.
Lei is a brilliant character, who fuelled by the loss of her mother is determined to make a change. She will not become what the Demon King wants her to be. Bolstered by her new found friends, she fights back at the system. I loved the growing relationship between Wren and Lei, in fact I'd say Wren was my favourite character in the whole book.
The story is action packed from the very first chapter. There were times when I couldn't breathe as I rooted for Lei to overcome the horrors she was subjected to. At times, this book is difficult to read. The abuse suffered is intense but luckily not to graphic, which would make this book suitable for the Young Adult community. There are so many unexpected twists and turns that you don't see coming. The last page has opened up the possibility of a second book, which I am delighted about. I desperately want to know what happens next. A war has begun and cannot be left without some form of future victory.
The world building is actually phenomenal and truly believable. The detailed descriptions really bring the story to life. The research alone, must have taken a long time. I love the intricate details about the palace, the grounds, the clothes as well as the delicacies they ate. The book reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha, but with the added fantasy flavour.
This book is an LGBT/POC masterpiece as it doesn't make a point of it. It's all extremely natural and blended so well into the story. I am amazed at how well Natasha has taken topical and relevant issues from our present day and blended them into a high fantasy novel.
From reading the preface and acknowledgements, it's very clear that this wasn't an easy book to write. By the sounds of it, the author suffered for her triumph. I previously read Natasha's first book and I have to say, this is the best book she has ever written. It's like she has finally found her own unique fantasy world and now stands shoulder to shoulder with authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Laini Taylor and my personal favourite, Leigh Bardugo. This book has movie deal stamped all over it. I really think this book will take Natasha to new heights within her writing journey.
This book is a keeper. One for the personal collection that will be read and reread and loved all over again every single time.
This review is part of the Girls of Paper and Fire blog tour. If you don't believe my review, catch up with all the other stops on the tour. If you want to win a copy, head over to @Shadowkitteh123 on Instagram to win one. Tomorrow the blog tour stop with Once Upon a Bookcase, so make sure you visit.