Title: Girls of Storm and Shadow
Author: Natasha Ngan
Release Date: Nov 5, 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
ARC provided by the publisher, Jimmy Patterson Books, in exchange for an honest review.
“Wren and I might not be Paper Girls anymore, but we are still capable of creating fire. And now we have a whole world to burn.”
Girls of Storm and Shadow picks up right where Girls of Paper and Fire left off. Lei and Wren have escaped the palace after slaying the Demon King, but their work – and the danger – is far from over. In order to overthrow the monarchy and defeat the king’s army, they must win the support of other clans to bolster their own forces. This is made much more complicated by the fact that it all must be done in secret – there are people from the palace hunting for the two escaped paper girls.
While Lei and Wren are busy fighting dangers all around, they’re also battling their own doubts and terrors. It’s hard to know who to trust, and soon the confusion and doubt threatens to tear Lei and Wren apart. Will true love prevail? Or will the horrors of war, and the pieces you have to sacrifice of yourself to win, come between them in the end?
“Being vulnerable isn’t a flaw. It is the most beautiful thing in the world. If you were invincible, being brave would be easy.”
After Girls of Paper and Firemade my list of top 2018 publications last year, this was one of my most highly anticipated sequels. I didn’t love it quite as much as the first one, but it was still a good follow-up.
GOSAS has a lot of what I loved from the first installment. There’s great representation, and a lot of great messages. Ngan goes deeper into how survivors may deal with their trauma, as well as the effects PTSD can have on your life and your relationships. She does both of these things beautifully and without pulling any punches. It’s realistic and hard and raw, and I truly cried tears for my beloved Lei and Wren while they were hurting.
“Fear is good. It means you care. And caring is its own kind of magic. One just as powerful as any dao I can weave.”
Her characters were as lovable as ever, and the new ones she brought to the table became high on my lists of favorites. I absolutely loved the witty banter and friendships that sprung up between this band of misfits. The world building that was so fabulous in the first book was expanded upon by bringing more clans and magic to the table. I fell deeper and deeper into this world, and loved every minute.
HOWEVER. And I hate having to put this, because I did really enjoy this book, and I was looking forward to it so much. I did have a few complaints. First, the pacing was pretty rough, y’all. I struggled the first half of this book. While I flew threw GOPAF, this book took me a couple weeks (!!!) to read because I just couldn’t fully immerse myself. Once I hit that 2/3 mark it did take off, but the first 60%…yikes. Also…towards the end… I feel like some of the decisions made by certain people (I’m being purposefully vague to avoid spoilers) were so out of character that I just didn’t find them believable. I honestly rolled my eyes a few times because their choices were just so out of left field and didn’t make much sense.
Overall though, I still loved this book, and I know Ngan has said that the ARCs are pretty early copies – the final copy could be completely different! This book still has the same magic, love, and themes that drew me in with GOPAF, and if you liked the first one I strongly encourage you to read it. I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting for #3.
GOSAS was released on Nov 5, 2019.
*All quotations are taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.