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22 November 2018

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

I went in to Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan with Expectations and I was not disappointed.  The author has created a fantastic, layered world and doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of power struggles and desperation. This Asian sapphic lesbian fantasy really got to me. So I am going to try and do this glorious book justice with a spoiler-free review. And then link to my spoiler filled thoughts.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan cover fairyloot
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Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honour they could hope for... And the most demeaning.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after — the girl whose golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has 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. There, Lei does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

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5 Words: Family, friendship, power, abuse, love.

Content Warning: Sexual assault, graphic animal death, torture, slavery.

Starting this book, I had expectations. I had heard so many amazing things from the author and people I follow on Twitter, and plenty of warnings about the content so I was prepared beforehand and made sure I was in a good place before picking it up.

Something I really appreciated with this book is how there were not only printed content warnings at the beginning, but also a list of helplines and resources for anyone affected by the difficult topics explored within the story.

I feel like Girls of Paper and Fire was a very angry story. And there is plenty to be angry about. It doesn't shy away from violence and brutality, it confronts prejudice and abuse head on.

But there is also a much softer side - girls supporting and loving girls, delicious food (it made me so hungry), hope, love. I loved those parts of the story where it slowed right down and looked away from the action and into the hearts of the characters.

Girls of Paper and Fire is excellently written, and there are so many gorgeous quotes that I could share. The world came alive on the page, I could practically see it and smell it and feel it. The writing is lavish and evocative and I want to read it forever. The characters are masterfully crafted, and even the smaller side characters have depth and secrets you cannot wait to explore.

I'm definitely going to read on in this series and I can't wait for the second book after that ending. In the meantime I am absolutely going to pick up The Elites.

I read this as part of the Fairyloot Readalong, and you can read my more in-depth (and rather spoilery) thoughts below on the Fairyloot Blog:

Instead of disappearing, she makes me feel reappeared. Reimagined. Her touch shapes me, draws out the boldness that had been hiding in my core.


  1. Such a beautiful cover!😍 Lovely review, Cora!

    Shirley |

  2. yes! i really love your review too and agree with it so much :) i read an arc so im v happy to hear there were TW and places togo for help in the finale, such a great addition

  3. Wow this sounds such a great read! I absolutely love vivid description, the sound of the words having been crafted so beautifully to adorn the meaning of them - if that makes sense lol! It is why I love Helen Dunmore's work so much and I really want to put this on my Christmas list haha! :D xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara

  4. I've heard such good things about this book so glad to hear you enjoyed it too. I wasn't aware of the trigger warnings though so it's good to see they have them printed at the front!

  5. Lovely review, Cora, I'm so happy you enjoyed this book so much!I've heard so much praise about it from everyone all around, I'm really looking forward to picking it up :)

  6. This was such a lovely review and so well written. Sounds like a very interesting book. Thank you for sharing!
    Lauren |


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