Monday, May 29, 2023

Today's read... Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

I'm back! But I bet none of you realized I was even gone. After one of my sons graduated from high school, we took a road trip down to southern Colorado and New Mexico to see the wonderful sites that area of the world has to offer. It was a ton of fun... of course, not everything ran smoothly, but that's where the memories are truly made.

Anyway, today's read was my nightly go-to book before bed at the hotels. After reading this authors duology, These Violent Delights, I was looking forward to diving into her new series. Plus, this takes place around the 1930's in China and centers around the problems of the Japanese victory and the political situation...which really thrilled me since I'm just finishing up a Chinese drama, which also centers around this time frame. 

Today's read is the first in a trilogy and came out Fall last year (2022). The second book is scheduled to hit the shelves in September with the third already in the works. Oh, and this one was recommend to the best list on Goodreads for 2022.

Foul Lady Fortune, #1
by Chloe Gong
Margaret K McElderry
YA Historical Fantasy
528 pages

The first book in a captivating new duology following an ill-matched pair of spies posing as a married couple to investigate a series of brutal murders in 1930s Shanghai.

It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.

Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption from her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.

Code name: Fortune.

But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.

To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON     /    B&N     /      KOBO (Audio)


Intrigue, conspiracy, secrets, and deadly situations mix with politics, romance, and a touch of magic to create an exciting ride. 

Rosalind isn't only one of the most feared assassins of her time, but she hasn't aged a day for several years. Her past hasn't exactly been riddled with sunshine, and guilt as well as secrets drive her forward to amend for many mistakes. When her handler assigns her to a mission, which doesn't target someone with their death, she's not sure how to take it. Worse, she's been assigned a partner to act as her husband...a playboy, who is as different from her as different could be. Somehow, they need to discover the secret plans of the Japanese as well as uncover the reasoning behind the murders plaguing Shanghai.  But as secrets come to light, the danger...and chaos...grows.

I did read this author's duology, These Violent Delights, and recommend reading that before hitting this series because this new series takes place a few years after the events explored in that duology. Since several of the characters reappear in this book, it would spoil some aspects of that tale if a reader were to go back to it after reading this new series.

The book starts out with a bang, landing the reader smack-dab in the middle of Rosalind's latest mission. And it works well to launch into the thick weave, which makes up the rest of the book. While Rosalind stands at the center of this series, rich sub-characters make it a read, which is hard to put down. This world is full of complicated intrigue and intentions, making it impossible to know what is truly going on or who is pulling what strings (and a little confusing, at a good way). The characters drive this forward in the most delightful ways. There are some, which are simply likable, while many are slippery, at best. The intentions are well hidden and impossible to guess, and this makes it grabbing until the end.

The main characters are a little hard to embrace, and that fits them well. Both Rosalind and Orion are masters of their craft and hard to get connect to because of this. It's no problem to root for Rosalind—luckily, the author spends quite a bit of time letting the reader really get to know her before the large twists hit. Orion, on the other hand, comes across as endearing, but never really sinks in enough to make a perfect romantic connection to Rosalind...almost but the gap between them never truly shrinks. While there is cute banter, the chemistry isn't quite there. But considering the ending (no spoilers, though) and the fact that there are two more books on the way, this might be exactly the way it needs to be. So, I wasn't disappointed. Not yet. (Gosh, there's so much going on in this read!)

While the book holds a very steady, gripping pace with character depth and building intrigue, about 3/4ths the way through, it suddenly shifts gears with a huge twist. This hits hard and flips everything on its head in a way, which I'm still not sure settles in right...although the logic and reasoning is pretty much there. Again, it will depends on how the tale continues from here. So, I'm definitely wanting to read book two because this book is quite a ride and promises tons to come.

I do want to throw in that this is sold as a young adult book, and I'm not sure why. Rosalind might be '19', but she stopped aging, making her truly in her early twenties. She acts way too mature for a teen as do almost all characters in this read. Most of the characters are adults. She works with mostly adults, is faking a marriage, and deals with other adult agents. A few characters are stated to be 18, but if these announced ages were dropped, I'd have never ever guessed the characters weren't adults. But YA-ers are sure to enjoy this read, too. I just see this fitting for older audiences, too.

Summed up, this is a very well-woven and thrilling read for fans of rich historical settings with a side-dish of fantasy.

And here she is...

Chloe Gong is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Secret Shanghai novels, as well as the Flesh and False Gods trilogy. Her books have been published in over twenty countries and have been featured in The New York TimesPeopleForbes, and more. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in English and international relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York City, pretending to be a real adult.

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on your son's graduation. I agree with you that this sounds more adult than YA. Glad you're enjoying the series.