From award-winning author Nghi Vo comes a dazzling new novel where immortality is just a casting call away
An Indie Next Pick!
A LibraryReads Top Ten Pick!
A Best of May Pick by Amazon | Apple Books | B&N Booksellers | LibraryReads | TIME Magazine | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Publishers Weekly | Buzzfeed | Chicago Review of Books | LitHub | BookRiot | Paste Magazine | Bookish | The Mary Sue
A Most Anticipated in 2022 Pick for The Washington Post | Polygon | PopSugar | Bustle | Ms Magazine | Autostraddle
It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.
“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn't care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.
But in Luli's world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.
Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In the 1930s Hollywood that novelist Nghi Vo imagines, the studio heads are all darkly magical creatures who use mysterious rituals and chilling blood magic to run their entertainment empires. But talented actress Luli Wei doesn’t care. As a queer Chinese American woman, she knows the odds are stacked against her dream of achieving fame, but that only makes her more determined to succeed—no matter the supernatural cost. We were simply blown away by Vo’s strange, fantastical world where movie cameras literally consume actors’ souls, moguls conjure obedient living automatons to work as background extras, and megastars achieve immortality by ascending into the night sky. Through it all, Luli is a smart, sarcastic heroine whom we loved following on this strange journey. The enchanting Siren Queen gives the phrase “movie magic” a clever new meaning.
Vo's spellbinding latest (after The Chosen and the Beautiful) solidifies her position as a force to be reckoned with in speculative fiction. During the golden age of Hollywood's studio system, names hold tremendous power. If a studio knows a star's true name, it can control them, so cast and crew alike hide behind pseudonyms. After toiling on movie lots, a young Chinese American woman gets onto the screen by blackmailing a predatory director, earning a meeting with a bigwig where she takes her sister's name, Luli Wei, as her own. But even after moving into the dorms on a major studio's lot, casting doesn't come quickly. Her first big break comes when she's cast as a siren, and she goes on to make a career of playing monsters. Through these roles, she learns to stand tall as an outsider amid the bright lights and dark magic of Hollywood, loving and losing various female costars and outsmarting the men who seek to overpower her. Vo's hypnotic prose blends metaphor with magic so seamlessly that reality itself becomes slippery. Her dazzling voice, evocative scene setting, and ambitious protagonist make this a knockout.
Siren Queen was filled with dynamic characters, layer upon layer of symbolism, a magical world of Hollywood fame and (mis)fortune, a fantastical rendering of magical realism and symbolism. This story is breathtaking!!!