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Girls of Storm and Shadow Review

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

The second book in the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy continues Lei's story but sets a markedly different tone.


Queer, young adult, dystopian, fantasy


Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn't the end of the plan---it's just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei's head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?


In this book, the setting changes drastically, moving from the Demon King's palace to a journy across the land of Ikhara. The travel-style plot is also very different, and we get mostly new characters, with brief flashes to what's happening to the old.

It deals with the long-term trauma that follows abuse, as Lei and Wren sruggle to find ways to cope with the sexual assault they endured. Despite this, it does have a lighter tone than the first, with plenty of comic relief in the form of Bo, a leapord demon who was one of my favorites of the new characters.

I did prefer the first book to the second, though that tends to be true for trilogies, as middle books are infamous for being difficult. You can tell a lot of it is setting things up for the third book, so most of the story is spent making various alliances which will come into play in the conclusion. Despite this, I did enjoy the book, and it ends once again on a cliffhanger. This is the problem with reading incomplete series; you have to wait so long for the next book to come.

Wren continues to be the most developed character, but the secondary character development was improved here, as Nitta, Bo, and Merrin felt much more fleshed out than many of the secondary characters in the first book. It was nice to explore the world of Ikhara more, as mostly we just saw the insides of the palace in the first book. There are territories outside the rule of the Demon King, including an entire nation of bird demons. The conflict between the bird and cat demons could have been explained better, as it seemed an important part of the story that should have had more history behind it. This may be me, since I am a fan of worldbuilding, but I would love more information on this world's history and how it got to be where it is today. While not quite as good as the first, this was an emotional and attention-holding read.

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