Own voices, Asian inspired fantasy.
Before I write about the book and my opinion I just want to address something. At the start of the finished copy, Natasha Ngan wrote a piece about the trigger warnings in this book and I commend her for doing this. I wish every author did this to help and inform readers. I believe, as I do not have the finished copy yet, that there are two excerpts in the book to warn readers of potential triggers. This could be so invaluable to people and is so refreshing to read.
This book is a truly important read, I felt when I was reading it that it was partly non-fiction and when I heard that it was own voices, I was blown away. I felt as though I was reading a true story of a girls who could be residing in North Korea during this time period. It was very harrowing to read but there was also so much life in this story that really brought the characters to life for me.
In this world, there are three different types of people called castes.
Paper caste – fully human.
Steel caste – humans that have been given animal abilities.
Moon caste – fully demon, with complete animal features.
These castes are very synonymous to the way our world works, we have classes and unfortunately people are thought of as a lower being because of their roots, job title, race, religion, sexual/gender beliefs, etc. I hope one day that this will change and we can live in a world where we are all equals. and sleep with him.
In this story we follow Lei, a name chosen by her parents who wanted to smile when they said her name. Seven years prior to this book, Lei’s mother was kidnapped and taken to the royal palace to become the king’s concubine. As the book goes one, we learn that each year, eight girls are given to the king to serve him. We also learn that most of these girls have been trained all their lives for this role, an honour within their families. A sad thought that for some of these girls this is the best life they will have, the other side of this is that they will fall into prostitution and have possibly a more brutal life.
Lei is kidnapped while working in her father’s herb shop and is ruthlessly taken to the hidden palace where she meets the other girls and starts her training with them. She instantly makes a friend with Aoki who I really liked, sadly her views were so tainted by the honour that I just wanted to save her more. Lei also starts a relationship with one of the girls and I like how this played out, it had to be kept hidden so it was subtle but so beautifully written.
There were many harrowing scenes that happened but as Lei’s quiet personality changed more into a strong and defiant nature, I was rooting for her so much.
Overall I feel that this is a book that is such an important book, however hard to read. It needs to be read as the world needs to stop treating other people and women that they are less than who they are. I would have given this 5 stars but I thought there would have been more magic and fantasy elements.