Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
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.
I really loved this one! But I’m going to keep my review a bit short to keep from giving anything away.
First off, there needs to be some warnings. There is violence, abuse, forced sex, and an animal killed early on. This book has some very mature topics.
There are three castes in this book. Paper caste are fully human, Steel caste are humans with partial demon-animal qualities, and Moon caste are fully demon. They have a lot of animal features likes horns, wings, etc. The king and highest caste are all Moon. Paper caste is the lowest caste.
Every year, there are 8 human girls chosen to be Paper Girls. They are to be the Demon King’s concubines. They live in the Paper House and go through training to be more proper. They also have training for their nights with the king. The girls are given medicine to make sure they don’t get pregnant and they are not allowed to take any other lovers. The families are taken care of, so many of them want their daughters to be chosen.
Lei is a paper caste. Her mother was taken and likely killed years before. She worked with her father making and selling herbs. Even though Lei is human, her eyes are golden like a demon. It makes her unique and a target. Her home is raided again, but this time they came for her. She is to be a gift for the king, a ninth Paper Girl.
Lei is absolutely against everything this involves, especially having sex with the king. She finds small ways to rebel, but has to be careful. The girls are beaten terribly if they resist. In the Paper House, she does make friends. She meets Wren, a tough but sweet girl. Wren and Lei do what they are not supposed to do. They fall in love. Wren has secrets though and she has to find enough trust in Lei to let her know what her plans are.
There is a “sickness” happening in Ikhara. Taxes are going up and crops are being seized. There are rebel groups that are starting to fight against the king. There are attacks happening and the king is worried.
Lei has to find a way to resist and fight back without having everyone around her killed. She also wants to find a way to be with Wren.
The ending of this was so good and it definitely left me wanting more. I thought this was a powerful story, that was really sad at parts. Women are definitely treated as property and I can’t wait to see how many of them are able to stand up and fight.
Thank you to James Patterson Presents/Little Brown Books for my copy for review. This is definitely going to make my favorite list for 2018. I gave this book 5 stars.
Have you read this yet? Is it on your TBR?