Title: Girls of Storm and Shadow
Author: Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance.
In this sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire, we find Lei and Wren in the next phase of their journey–a phase that is more intense and unexpected than anything they encountered in book one. I don’t want to give away any spoilies, so I apologize if this review is vague. What I really enjoyed throughout was seeing Lei and Wren’s relationship evolve as they faced new hurdles and challenges. Their worlds have shifted so drastically and they now find themselves leading the charge in a conflict that will, presumably, consume their world and leave no group untouched. Everything they came to know in book one comes into question as instability and the persistent threat of war wreaks havoc. I loved the LGBT representation throughout and the themes of magic and fantasy.
I didn’t, however, love this book as a whole. I didn’t mind book one, but I felt a bit underwhelmed by book 2 in this series. I didn’t go in with any expectations, but by the end, I found myself wanting more. There is a lot happening in this story and perhaps my disappointment can be attributed to the constant shift and movement throughout. I don’t think some plot elements received the attention they deserved and were not always seen all the way through. There are a lot of characters–especially newly introduced characters–who are not always as fleshed out as they should be, and it’s often hard to follow exactly what their role is. There’s also some action that happens “off-stage” where it’s mentioned in the book, but we, the readers, don’t witness it directly. With how much is already going on, these likely important side-mentions often got lost in the main action, or where not as important a point of focus as they should have been.
I’m still curious, though, to see this series through. It certainly could make an interesting movie or television show. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I would say, overall, that this was an ok sequel to a book that had a lot of potential. I hope things will ramp back up again in book 3.