War brings out the ugly in people.
In the sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire (2018), the Demon King of Ikhara has been hiding away in the depths of the royal palace, licking his wounds and plotting revenge on the Paper caste girl, former concubine, Lei, along with all the other factions who betrayed him. Unaware that he survived the attack, Lei is still haunted by the trauma she experienced at his hands and all she had to do to survive. She and her lover, Wren, now seek to ally themselves with other demon clans to overthrow the kingdom while the power structure is unstable. During their journey, however, as she witnesses brutality and ruthlessness from their own side, Lei begins to question the motives and methods of the one she loves. Will she help put into power a Paper caste king if he is just another dictator? The author spends a substantial amount of time delving into Lei and Wren’s relationship in this story, from small scenes of intimacy and laughter to tough talks on dealing with pain and keeping secrets. Although some modern vocabulary is jarring (“fanmail,” “erectile dysfunction”), particularly since the story is set in a feudal Asia, this is a worthy follow-up that will satisfy fans.
A solid fantasy pick with a strong LGBTQ pairing. (map, caste guide, author’s note) (Fantasy. 14-18)