Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she 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. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Oh wow. I felt I would enjoy this going in, but I had no idea just how well it was written and how much I would love it.
I will warm up front for a bit of explicit and shocking animal cruelty early on. I think it’s necessary to the story as it demonstrates the cruelty of the people and the system but it also felt unnecessary cause doggie!!
Aside from that, I really adored this book. From the friendships and relationships with the girls (but obviously especially Lei and Wren 💙) to the gentle handling of rape and abuse. I have never read anything like it. It manages to be explicit in how horrific it is but also doesn’t need to rub it in your face and is incredibly well done. It is a masterclass in how to write abuse in a sensitive nature.
I also loved the caste system and the different takes on the expectations on each part of society. Though in parts I wanted more on how it ended up that way, I think there’s so much more to come in figuring against it!
And that ending. Just so many things to discuss and I definitely CAN’T lol cause spoilers.
Buy Girls of Paper and Fire from Amazon UK.