Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JADE FIRE GOLD by June CL Tan Kirkus Star


by June CL Tan

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-305636-7
Publisher: HarperTeen

Two teens discover their intertwined destinies as war returns to the land.

Sixteen-year-old Ahn lives with her grandmother in a small village that’s disappearing into the ever expanding desert. She can’t remember much of her past, before she was found alone in town as a child of 6 and adopted by her Ama; all she can do is focus on their survival by pilfering food—and keeping her secret hidden. Ahn is a Tiensai, those possessing strong spiritual powers who can use magic and are hunted mercilessly by cruel, fanatical Diyeh priests. As the Shi Empire goes into mourning for the deceased emperor and the threat of another war looms, Ahn discovers a dark side to her magic. She also meets enigmatic, 18-year-old Altan, the rightful heir, who is seeking the mythical Life Stealer in order to bring back peace and prosperity. The worldbuilding is rich and layered, mixing Chinese culture and mythology with martial arts and fantastical magic. The depiction of the impact of war, as shown by the Shi Empire’s colonialism, power imbalances with neighboring civilizations, and effect on families and communities, is nuanced and balanced with discussions of strong leadership, national pride, and service. The smoldering romance takes place against the backdrop of themes of duality and complementarity in nature, trauma and revenge, self-sacrifice, truth in history, and the fight for a better future.

A magic-filled debut that will leave readers eager for more from this author.

(glossary, notes about the fantasy world) (Fantasy. 12-18)