Uncover a riveting story of palace intrigue set in a sumptuous Asian-inspired fantasy world in the breakout YA novel that Publisher's Weekly calls "elegant and adrenaline-soaked."
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after -- the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king's interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, she does the unthinkable: she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world's entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
In this rich fantasy from Ngan (The Memory Keepers), the citizens ofIkhara comprise three castes: the oppressed, fully human "Paper" class; "Steel," a human-animal mash-up; and the reigning "Moon" caste, made up of anthropomorphic animals called demons. Every year, the Moon caste's king claims eight "Paper Girls" as concubines. It's an alleged honor, but when the military collects golden-eyed, 17-year-old Lei from her family's herbal medicine shop, she's devastated. Her father will suffer if she resists, however, and she wonders about finding her mother, also taken, so Lei relocates to the ruler's Hidden Palace. Although she dreads being summoned to the brutal king's bedroom, Lei finds comfort in the friendship of her fellow courtesans particularly the secretive Wren, with whom she falls in love. Ngan's plot is tense and tight, her action sequences are elegant and adrenaline-soaked, and her story's stakes increase exponentially through the pulse-pounding conclusion. She champions self-empowerment while condemning classism, homophobia, and the \ncommod i fication of women. What most distinguishes this book, though, is how incisively and intoxicatingly Ngan writes about love. Ages 15 up. \n
Ngan’s book was very well written. The story was exciting and full of action. I would recommend this book for older teenaged readers, as she frequently talks about more explicit topics such as sex and rape. But, the characters were wonderfully created and they came alive during the course of this story. Overall, this was a great read!
Honestly my favorite part was the incredible aspects of mythic culture that’s intertwined into this story.
Never should have been written.