Ngan’s recently released second book in the trilogy is as compelling as the original. If you have gift cards to spend this holiday season, these two books will keep you turning pages.
First things first, GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE, the first book in the trilogy by Ngan (2018), is masterful. In short… Lei, a seventeen-year-old, is kidnapped to serve as a concubine to the King. She proves to be an overwhelming challenge to his majesty.
For a full review, see Laura Fineburg Cooper’s post on this site. Laura did a marvelous job capturing the essence of this story and this series. In summary she wrote,
“I recommend GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE not only as a compelling, gorgeously written YA novel but also as an exceptional world-building mentor text.”
I also reviewed GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE for my own blog and wrote: “This is the story of strong women fighting what is wrong in their world. This is the story of true love between women. This is a story of determination…Her writing grabs you on the first page. The story propels itself forward in a gripping fight you want Lei to win. I look forward to finding out what happens in Lei’s next battle.”
So, let’s talk about Lei’s next battle.
GIRLS OF STORM AND SHADOW is only slightly less amazing because of what I’ve come to expect from Ngan, the author, and from her characters: Lei, Wren, and their fellow combatants. The writing is as compelling, the world-building as creative.
Visualize this,” …cat demons deftly made the adjustments to transition the ship from sailing ocean waves to sand dunes. They unfurled new sails that span out over the sides of the boat to snag the low winds of the desert and changed the rudder in a gravity-defying move that had Lova dangling over the stern…The boat rocks gently as it skates across the dunes, warm wind rippling our hair. All around, the sands stretch out, golden slopes gilded in pinks and amber.” Totally feasible, and I am there.
From the start of this second novel, Lei hears a whisper, “I’ve found you.” It is eerie and daunting. And although unfair, there are always ghosts for victims of trauma. One is never truly free from their attackers and Ngan knows this. Despite her fears, Lei continues to fight for what she believes will set her and all of Ikhara free from the brutal rule of the Demon King.
When her fellow rebel’s actions become as ghastly as the King’s followers, Lei questions her actions. These doubts lead her away from the safety of those she loves and straight into the arms of danger.
My favorite aspect of this second book is that I no longer have any idea where Lei will end up. I have my hopes. I have my suspicions. But I also smile, knowing Ngan will probably surprise me.
Bring on Book Three.