A Review of: Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 397 pages
Set immediately following the events of Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei, Wren and companions travel across Ikhara in search of allies in the coming war against the Demon King.
New characters are introduced in this novel to join Lei and Wren on their journey. They include her father’s companion Shifu Caen, the shaman Hiro, leopard demon siblings Bo and Nitta, and owl demon Merril. Lei and Wren remain strong, empathic characters and it was nice to watch their relationship develop outside the Hidden Palace. While I did enjoy the dynamics between Lei and all the new characters, I did have some complaints about a couple of them. Bo was a comic relief character, but his constantly cracking jokes undermined the story’s otherwise serious, dark tone and generally felt out of place. Hiro, meanwhile, had virtually no character development.
Narrative Style: The novel is told mostly through the first-person perspective of Lei. However, there are a few chapters interspersed throughout that have the third person narrative of various characters back at the Hidden Palace. I felt these third person chapters made the story choppier and didn’t add anything significant to it.
This novel had excellent pacing, especially for a second novel. Enough happened that it kept my interest and it never felt stagnant.
While the novel has its flaws, it is wonderful in terms of representation for LGBT romances and strong female characters. The setting of the Hidden Palace in the first novel never felt boring, but I very much enjoyed getting to see more of Ikhara outside of it. If you were a fan of the first book, this one is definitely worth the read. Overall, I would rate it 4/5 stars.