Going into this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was an LGBT read, and anyone who knows me knows those are my kryptonite, as in I will literally give any LGBT book or author a chance in the name of supporting LGBT becoming a future staple of the writing industry.
A lot of reviews of this book were on the negative side, bashing Ngan for writing a book containing a lesbian relationship. Because, god forbid gays find the representation they deserve in the writing community ? .
Let me start this review by saying this book has excellent worldbuilding. There were so many times where I sat here in silence processing the beautiful picture Ngan paints.
The moon caste demons are a feast for the eyes. Their descriptions are rich and wondrous. So are the steel caste demons and hell, even the descriptions of the paper caste humans were incredible.
I was so invested in the world Ngan created I definitely slacked off on reading all my other books. I have to say I was a little disappointed that Lei fell in love with a paper caste woman and not a moon or steel caste, but that’s just the teratophiliac in me.
There was one thing other than the world building and characterization I found to be incredible. And it isn’t something a lot of people think about, but there’s a scene in the book where Lei wonders why it’s okay for men to be with other men while it was taboo for women to be with other women.
To be honest, I think this reflects keenly on the writing industry as a whole. The entire reason I became an author was because of this whole mess of MM books being the only LGBT offerings when the world needed more FF representation (and rep for the more marginalized LGBT groups: trans, bi, poly, pan, ace, etc.). That scene really struck a chord with me because of this.
Now, Ngan may not have meant it that way, but that’s how I interpreted it and it made me feel really seen.
I cannot wait to read book 2.
Overall rating: ★★★★
Characterization: ?❤️?? ?❤️?? ?❤️??
Boredom meter: ????
The beginning was really slow to start and it took me a long time to get into it, but once I hit my stride, I listened to it every single night.
More about Girls of Paper and Fire
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.
TW: violence and sexual abuse.