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Book Review – Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire

Natasha Ngan


RRP: $21.99

This book was a quick and enjoyable read – and whilst that’s always what you look for in a novel, I felt a little bit like I was reading a combination of novels I’ve read before. Sort of a déjà vu moment; but not. And if you asked me to put my finger on it, I couldn’t quite place it…there’s some Memoirs of a Geisha, The Handmaid’s Tale, 50 Shades (without the crazy x-rated bits), The Hunger Games (and other teen dystopian books of that nature), a selection of fairy tales and The Bible – to name a few. And whilst it’s true that there’s really no such thing as a truly original idea, the fact that many of the storylines felt obvious was a tad annoying.

Set in a past/present (?) caste-based society this novel explores the world of Ikhara through the eyes of Lei. Those in higher castes are part animal and the others just human. Lei is of the lowest caste and has suffered trauma due to the higher caste in her youth. Her family live a peaceful life, far from the intrigues of court. The highest honour of the land is to be chosen as one of the king’s concubines and despite her distance from court Lei is chosen as one of the “lucky” ones.

In the court she learns how to please the king and falls in love. She also must come to terms with the past and choose if she wishes to put things right.

Obviously, the first in a series this is one of those that chooses to leave you hanging a bit (not my favourite thing to do, but for some young readers a necessity I suspect), and whilst I have quite a few reservations (as above) I will look forward to the next in the series with some anticipation as I did think the book got much better as it progressed.

About the Author

Natasha Ngan is part young-adult author, part yoga-teacher, part habitual nap-taker. She grew up between Malaysia and the UK, speaking Chinese with her mother mainly as a way to talk about people without them understanding. She studied Geography at the University of Cambridge and later worked as a fashion blogger, social media consultant and freelance writer. Natasha recently moved to Paris, where she likes to imagine she drifts stylishly from brasserie to brasserie, notepad in one hand and wineglass in the other. In reality, she mostly spends her time lost on the metro and offending locals with her French.

About Esther Perriam

Esther Perriam
Esther Perriam is the General Manager at Eldernet. She’s worked in the business for over 10 years and has been lucky to visit many of the older person’s services around the country. She’s never short of an opinion on…pretty much anything. Esther really loves reading and you’ll see plenty of book reviews authored by her. As a mother of two small children there’s not much free time but if there is she also enjoys cooking (for grown-ups, not the kids!) and anything beach related in her spare time. Esther has presented at conferences around New Zealand and is happy to be contacted in regards to speaking or presenting at your event.

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