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Girls of Paper and Fire #2

Girls of Storm and Shadow

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In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

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?

417 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Natasha Ngan

7 books3,317 followers
Natasha Ngan is a writer and yoga teacher. She grew up between Malaysia, where the Chinese side of her family is from, and the UK. This multicultural upbringing continues to influence her writing, and she is passionate about bringing diverse stories to teens. Ngan studied Geography at the University of Cambridge before working as a social media consultant and fashion blogger.

She lives in France with her partner, where they recently moved from Paris to be closer to the sea. Her novel Girls of Paper and Fire was a New York Times bestseller.

She is represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary. The final book in the bestselling GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE trilogy will be published in November 2021.

Follow Natasha at: http://natashangan.com or on Twitter: @girlinthelens

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,025 reviews
Profile Image for Natasha Ngan.
Author 7 books3,317 followers
March 18, 2019
This book contains: an epic journey, dark magic, stormy seas and blistering deserts, cute queer boy demons, fancy parties, politics, betrayal, badass girls with swords, declarations of love that come too late, secrets and fears, hope and devastation, battles at midnight, stolen kisses, glorious feasts, shattered lives, and scenes that will both make and break your heart. Prepare yourselves 😈
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,585 followers
May 23, 2020

Many thanks to Julie at jimmy Paterson for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

This book was sent to me by the publisher! If you would like to know how to get ARCs and review copies, feel free to watch my video, Advanced Reader Copies 101!


setting this aside because... 1) i'm bored 2) i had to return the audiobook to the library


Here we go! Fingers crossed that the cute demons come quickly


happy book birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I just noticed that Natasha said in her review that this book is full of "cute queer boy demons" and my gay heart is already palpitating


It's here and I am so glad I got the coverless ARC because.. this cover.. is... not my cup of tea..


WE HAVE A COVER AND I AM QUAKING IN ITS BEAUTY!!! actually, after a lot of thinking, i hate this cover 🤷


Please let November come sooner! I NEED more Wren and Lei!!!

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Profile Image for Mango.
210 reviews303 followers
May 3, 2021
“There is nothing stronger than people who endure the worst hardships in the world and still raise their fists at the start of a new day to fight all over again.”

Note: This will contain spoilers from Girls of Paper and Fire. Read at your own risk.

So...this book was okay I guess. I did not like this one as much as the first one. Why? Because Wren became more annoying, and the plot kind of staggered.

Let's begin with the characters:

So, there were some things I liked about the characters, and some things I did not like. Lei definitely improved in this book, but Wren kind of downgraded. I will briefly cover my favorite side characters as well.

Lei: I really liked Lei in this book! She was sweet, kind, considerate, and quite selfless too. But, it took her a while to get there.

So remember how in my previous review, I mentioned that Lei was a Mary Sue? Well guess what! She had more flaws in this book. My respect for her has increased. After Lei "killed" the Demon King, Lei has become more brave. She grows defiant of the laws, and becomes a bit reckless. Why is that?

Because in the previous book, she summoned up the courage to defy authority. While that's a good thing, it's not great to be too impulsive. And that's exactly what Lei was. She acted upon her feelings and made a lot of mistakes. But throughout the book, she grew up so much!

She learned to act not just upon her heart, but use logic too. She became a more skilled fighter, more confident, and an even better friend. I really loved her development, conflicts and how she got through them!


There was one thing I didn't like about Lei. She was just so dependent on Wren. She felt the need to please Wren no matter what. Like uM you are not Wren's minion, you are your own self. Please don't forget that and DO NOT become a sucker for her.

Wren: I'm sorry, but I was honestly a bit disappointed in Wren. Wren was my favorite character in Girls of Paper and Fire, so I had huge expectations of her. Unfortunately, I was let down.

She became a little bit moody and was very secretive. I feel like if Wren had decided to tell Lei these secrets, like things would have gotten better. Because of Wren's secrets, Lei got so angry at her (which is understandable) and almost ended their relationship. Even if Wren hid those secrets to "protect" Lei, it would have gone better if there were no secrets. I mean you need to have trust in each other to make a relationship work...

I also hardly saw any character development in her. Like there were many things she regretted doing, but throughout the book, I just couldn't connect to her. She didn't quite grow either. I wouldn't say she felt remorse for

So yeah, I was disappointed in Wren. I really hope I get to see her better side in the next book.

Favorite Side characters:

3 words. Nitta and Bo. They were the BEST, I liked them even better than Lei to be honest lol. Nitta and Bo are siblings, and they just added so much light to the story. They are hilarious. I think the reason I loved them so much is because their relationship reminds me of me and my sister's relationship.

Nitta: She is definitely what you call a strong female character. Nitta is of demon-caste, and is in a leopard form. She is a great warrior, hilarious, sassy, and just so emotionally supporting. Nitta cares so much about her other team-mates like it's no big deal. This makes so easy to take her for granted.

You think she sounds like a Mary Sue? Not quite. There was a LOT of conflict. I will elaborate more on her conflicts in a spoiler tag. One of her main conflicts is the result of a major spoiler.

Bo: He was just as hilarious as Nitta! Bo is also of demon-caste. However, he is not exactly like Nitta. He is immature, irresponsible, and cracks jokes even in bad times XD. That what makes him so lovable. Even in the darkest times, he always managed to make his friends laugh.

Moving on to the plot:

The plot was quite simple honestly. I mean, normally in my reviews you'll see me writing so many paragraphs about the plot. I could literally summarize the plot here in one paragraph.

Lei, the Moonchosen, has fled the Demon King's palace, with her love, Wren. They meet up with a resistance group. Then, they travel across kingdoms, looking to secure allies to take over the kingdom, and restore its peace. However, things are not so simple. With the King alive, soldiers are being sent to kill them, to prevent them from rebelling. During these journeys, Lei trains and trains to become a better fighter and act upon her mind, not her emotions.


You might be like wow. That's a short plot summary. And I know right? Like since when do I write 1 short paragraph about the plot? Well, since the plot is simple and there's nothing to say about it.

I will say, there were some pretty interesting plot twists in there, like

But overall, the plot is basically them finding allies and fighting the Demon King's army. So the plot was okay, but I wouldn't be able to fan-girl about it for hours.

Ending with the writing:

The writing was really good! I'm a sucker for Ngan's writing. It's so lyrical, and descriptive, it's beautiful. It's almost like reading beautiful poetry. That's all I have to say. Absolutely beautiful.

So, I took 2 stars off because of Wren and the mediocre plot.

To conclude, this was a mediocre book for me. I was a bit disappointed in Wren and the plot, since I really enjoyed the first book.

But I'm still dying for the third book, Girls of Fate and Fury which have not released yet. Like seriously?! I now have to wait until November 2021 to get my hands on the finale. Anyways, looking forward to the next book!

Not bad. Review to come!
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,089 reviews6,598 followers
June 21, 2020
1.) Girls of Paper and Fire ★★★★.5
2.) Girls of Storm and Shadow ★★★★


“Fear is good. It means you care. And caring is its own kind of magic. One just as powerful as any dao I can weave.”

representation: own voices all asian cast (author is Malaysian), f/f relationship, m/m relationships.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


yooooo i don't know what book y'all were reading, but this was so good. i think i liked it just as much as the first book! It was so sad tho and i need the next book, like, yesterday.

trigger warnings: gore, sex trafficking, PTSD, past trauma of sexual abuse and rape, loss of loved ones, brief mentions of animal death, murder, self-harm, being in an abusive and manipulative relationship, fire, death (lots of it), whipping and torture, self-medicating with alcohol, mentions of slavery, war themes.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,062 reviews615 followers
October 9, 2019

Like with the first book I had a feeling that this was somewhat unoriginal. It had some clear The Hunger Games vibes - girl becomes figurehead for resistance, girl gets a (strange) 'codename', girl doubts whether resistance is actually better than established ruling faction. Also, it had some world-building problems. Still, I enjoyed the characters, the overall direction of the story and the LGBT representation.


Bo!: Bo was such a bright spot in what was, otherwise, a quite dark and gloomy story. Bo was a ray of teasing sunshine that, at first, I found really annoying, but, as the story progressed, I became obsessed with!

Wren: I will not give away too much here, but I was really invested in Wren and the things that we learn about her and her character. It was surprising, exciting and unexpected.

Direction: With the way the story is evolving, the direction it is taking, I am very hopeful for the next book!


Steels: Throughout this entire book I kept thinking about the Steels! Why aren't they really a part of this story? Whose side are they on? Why are they even in this world if they play no part in it at all?

Unoriginal: Like I said, there were a lot of Hunger Games vibes with this book, and as soon as I picked up on it, it was hard to disregard it.

World-building: This was a problem I also had with the first book, which I hoped would be somewhat solved here. Sadly, they were not. I still felt like I didn't understand the world, the casts, the role of the Steels and the history of the society.

Background: This book introduces several new characters including three Moon casts that fight alongside Wren and Lei - Merrin (whom we met briefly in the first book), Nitta and Merrin. What bothered me was that I didn't understand their motivation for turning against their own cast and assisting the Papers. I wanted to know about their background to understand why they did this.

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,372 reviews1,835 followers
November 8, 2019
There was a quote I immediately thought of when I finished this book. It comes from Pitch Perfect 3 courtesy of Anna Kendrick who says :

"Oh, honey, that was.. we didn't like that at all."

I'm not as disappointed about this as I might have been had I actually liked book one to begin with. But I did hope the story, or plot, would transition into interesting avenues, or at least properly process trauma and/or grief. And it didn't. I feel like little to nothing actually even happened in this instalment beyond journey chapters, training sequences, inappropriately timed jokes and banter (some of which felt so modern for such a distinctly historical-ish/fantasy story), and a few reveals that might have been surprising had I not clocked them through some poor attempt at being sneaky with foreshadowing.

I'll admit I'm also disappointed this is not the duology I thought I would be and that I still have another book to read to finish this series (and I will read it) but that's more a me problem than anything else. Though arguably it's all a me problem.

I'm not enamoured by the writing, the plot, the bloated cast of characters and names that I lose track of, and while one of the few things in book one that won me over was the romance, in this one.. I don't know. I feel the cracks that have begun to show are perfectly natural and expected considering both trauma, events, and losing the blush of one's first love/exiting the honeymoon stage, but.. I don't know. I don't think these characters even like each other anymore? They just lust after each other and call it love. That sounds harsh but considering the genesis of their relationship, it might not too far off base. And also, hey, nothing wrong with lust? Just call it what it is?

Anyway, suffice it to say I'm still waiting to be won over by this series and at this stage I can only hope it ends well. It's a pretty low bar for me at this point.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for mahriya➹.
122 reviews197 followers
March 9, 2020
girls of paper and fire - 1 star
girls of storm and shadow - 1.5 stars


this series is so tiring and boring and stupid and pointless...this book had NO PLOT. I just read 400 pages...and I'm like "that's it? that's the book?" because it was so STUPID.

literally, point out ONE thing they accomplished in this novel and i will be surprised. they did little things, like finding allies, but the entire book was people just keeping secrets, and action scenes that lasted way too long, characters being whiny and annoying, and "healing" (all that other mushy cringey stuff) i am SO glad this book is over. should i talk about everything i hated in-depth? no. i think i'll spare myself the pain of thinking about this book for too long.

me trying to figure out why lei and wren are in a relationship when they clearly don't understand each other, keep secrets from each other all the time, have major miscommunication issues, and the only thing they like about the other is that they are both beautiful,

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me shipping lova and wren because they're both bad-ass, selfish, smart and fucking amazing:
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me realising lei is stupidly impulsive, can't shut up about how "heartless" other people are whilst she kills people after living in a peaceful village half her life and experiences no guilt and trauma from it, annoying, hypocritical and stupid:

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me when and i'm actually sad about it, and realising i care more about the side characters more than lei and wren
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me realising i wasted 4 hours of my life, maybe more, reading this book
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me every time lei is doing things because she's "brave" but really she's just dumb and is messing up the plan, and always lets her emotions rule over basic logic
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me reading the scene where Lei wins naja, a warrior probably trained since birth, in a fight, after lei has only had in total 5 training sessions.
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me reading this book, the biggest clusteruck of annoying dumb characters doing annoying, dumb things

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me trying to find the plot or point to this book but then realising it's just the same repetitive nonsense for 400 pages straight

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natasha realising merrin is a way more interesting character than the entire cast, and he would be a better main character because he's got a brain, has several flaws, and is the only one speaking logic and not speaking out of his ass half the time

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me, every time lei says she "hisses" or "growls" at another character

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me trying to find a good way to end this review
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okay goodbye, that's the end of me reading this shit series. I'm not going to read book 3. yeah it's got some good writing, nothing special, but it's pretty. I'd much rather read a spin-off series about bo and nitta's GOD TEIR banter and sibling relationship, bo and Merrin being cute and flirty, Merrin being developed as a nuanced character who's experienced trauma and is angry at the right people, but instead this series will continue to be about lei - a character i find to get on my nerves a lot.
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pls don't waste ur time reading this series. it's got side characters that are way better than the mc, and some cool prose, but other than it's a WASTE OF TIMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe.

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note/disclaimer thingy (not an actual spoiler but in tags as i dont want this appear too long) :
Profile Image for Iris.
544 reviews253 followers
Want to read
May 28, 2019
***Pre-review #2***

OH. MY. GOD. This cover is absolutely stunning and I am 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

I don't love it *quite* as much as the first cover, but at the same time it is GORGEOUS and I CANNOT STOP STARING AT IT.

Productivity? What is that? Why bother doing anything responsible when I can just stare at this cover all day long instead?

***Pre-review #1***

This book may not have a release date, cover, or title yet, but it's sure as hell one of my most anticipated releases regardless! I. NEED. IT.
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
436 reviews703 followers
August 12, 2021
Girls of Paper and Fire: ☆☆☆☆☆
Girls of Storm and Shadow: ☆☆.5

TW: self-harm, referances to sexual abuse, PTSD

I am so utterly disappointed. I was so sure that I was going to like this book since I loved the first book, but this was not what I expected. This book had 400 hundred pages and it could have been so much shorter than that!

The plot was horrible. It was so dull and for most of the book I didn't even know what the plot was or what our characters were aiming to do. It was a complete mess. Somewhere at around the 200 page mark something happened that made me really not like this book. It was so unnecessary. It literally made no difference to the story or the plot. I felt like it was put there just for something to happen in this book.

As much as I loved the romance in the first book, I really did not like it in this book. Wren was keeping so many secrets from Lei and after the first 100 pages it got so annoying. Some many of the things that happen in this book could have been avoided if Wren just talked to Lei!

I loved the new characters that we got in this book. This has to be the only thing that I am happy it happened in this book. I loved Nitta and Bo. Especially Bo since he brought a lot of humor for a little in the book. I also really liked Mirren and it was interesting to see how he got along with Nitta and Bo. In the end Nitta, Bo and Lei had to be my favourite characters in this book.

I can't say that I recommend this book to anyone. But just because I didn't like it doesn't mean others won't. The first book I recommend with my whole heart, but sadly I just can't recommend this book too.

Ok so I am going to go a little bit into spoilers so if you haven't read this book, DO NOT READ FURTHER. SPOILERS AHEAD.

I am so mad that the author decided to kill off Bo. This book is so dark and deals some harder topics and his humor was much needed to lighten the mood. And his death was completly pointless. Before he was killed, the author developed a romance between Mirren and Bo. And I do not see the purpose to that, if she just ended up killing Bo. She just wasted so many good plot points, that she could have developed in the future! I am so pissed about this!

From the beginning I suspected that there's something off with Wren's father. And I was right! I was so mad about that and how Wren was acting. Like because the King bad and they are fighting to win a war against him, they can do anything to win it. Like THEY HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO WIN IT. Where are the principles?! Just because the King is worse that doesn't mean Wren's father isn't bad!
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews264 followers
July 10, 2019
Siri, please translate [a thousand dying screams] into english for me because that's it. That's the review

(Also, May is lowkey disowned)

buddy read with the scourge of all human creation

anyways :) the heavens looked down favorably upon me and the publicist decided to give me a physical arc of this (after I wrote a five body paragraph essay in my review request)
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,551 followers
August 25, 2020
CW: sexual trauma, PTSD-like symptoms, public execution, arsony, violence, blood, explosion, self-harm for blood magic, death

Ooof. Okay. I went into this with very low expectations because of the reviews I read and opinions I heard and I'm glad I did. Because although I can't say I was disappointed because of my lowered expectations, this was objectively a weak(er) sequel. The first two thirds (if not more) of the story had more of ajourney "getting from point A to point B" type of plot which is all good and fun when done well but something about the pacing was off and I found myself bored and skimming a lot.

The story got stronger in the last 120 pages with more characters coming into play, a lot of conflict being introduced, a lot of action and reveals, which made me think that if those things were sprinkled all throughout the book and done gradually it would have made for a more balanced sequel. Because those last bits made the book unputdownable when I would have struggled a lot with the rest of it weren't it for a very entertaining buddy read.

Wren got on my nerves, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. I tried to give her some slack because all her actions/reactions stemmed from 1/the way she was conditioned from childhood and 2/the trauma she underwent in the hidden palace. And I know there are countless ways of coping with trauma but. But. When all the facts were layed in front of her, all the ways, her "side" of the war was doing things wrong and mirroring the enemy while condemning said enemy in the same sentence. I also HATED the way she manipulated Lei and placated her by telling her she loves her. Now, was that realistic and did I love seeing that type of messy character? Yes. Because not everyone knows how to cope healthily or how to let people in when they need them. Especially since the narrative doesn't condone her behavior. But it doesn't mean that I wasn't frustrated.

Speaking of trauma, I loved how it was represented in the book and how the author showed multiple characters who went through very similar, if not identical, scenarios and reacted/coped in vastly different ways. Between Lei, Wren, Aoki and the little glimpses we got of the others, we got a pretty well rounded perspective of what trauma can look like in different people. Just remember that even with a few different coping ways, it's still not encompassing, dare I say that trauma coping might even be unique to each and every person, which is something the author briefly touches on in her note at the end of the book.

All in all, I'm still excited about the sequel because the ending of this book was pretty strong and opened up many questions I want answers to, but I just wish I could say the same about the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
853 reviews3,765 followers
January 6, 2020
This had the typical sequel slump. They're was a lot of travel and small battles just building to what will happen next. I felt like not much of importance happened for the length, was mostly bored, and often considered DNFing. I did appreciate how it portrayed coping with trauma.

AUDIOBOOK: the narrator had a pleasant voice, but the reading was pretty flat. Inflection was often in the wrong place, there was a lack of emotion and urgency, and chapter transitions were confusing because she did not wind down to close out scenes. I kept thinking my audiobook had cut off in the middle of a paragraph.
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,295 followers
February 18, 2020
A binge-able follow-up to the entrancing and vivid Girls of Paper and Fire, I found this sequel not quite at the level of its predecessor. Where the first book in this series had a heavier tone (MASSIVE trigger warnings for sexual violence here), Girls of Storm and Shadow takes place mostly outside of the palace that previously held Lei and the other paper girls, in essentially a gilded cage. The shift in setting and pacing ended up leaving a lot of the grittiness and human-connections we got to experience with Lei, Wren, Aoki and the others behind, seemingly in exchange for smart-mouthed warrior-cats and a snarky bird.

My biggest issue with this book was that tonal change. Natasha Ngan flipped back and forth between adolescent frivolity and the brutality of war in an almost jarring way. As just about everyone in the story at this point is well into adulthood, it seemed ridiculous that in the midst of fleeing for their lives they dole out so many cringey dick jokes or that one highly-trained demon fighter would refer to another as an “incredibly cute boy”, out loud amongst their peers.

The romance in the last book was also so much more, well, earned. It was dangerous to develop feelings and even more so to act on them. But now, when the stakes are different, but arguably just as high, most love interests come off as superficial afterthoughts. As an aside, this book has such “Everybody is GAY!!” energy that the only evidence of straight people is the fact that clearly there are some still procreating. Unfortunately, the myriad of gayness wasn’t enough to save the plotting of this one.

I feel like so many characters were oversimplified and turned into sass-monsters that it undermined the entire buildup of their personal journeys up to this point. I knocked Leigh Bardugo for doing this in some of her books as well—it’s really not necessary for everyone to be so biting and sarcastic all of the time. I get it’s YA, but please work on the time and place of these exchanges. Lei seems to backslide as a character here as well. She acts before thinking, making rash decisions and endangering those around her; I call this type of main character the Dunce Gryffindor. They are, unfortunately, very popular in Young Adult fantasy, which is a major bummer for me, a full grown adult who (still) loves the genre.

Like I mentioned initially, this book is extremely readable and a good time generally. But based off of my expectations for it after reading Girls of Paper and Fire, it’s a bit of a disappointment. At least they talk significantly less about bathing in this one. I will never understand why so many authors love to go into such bath-related detail, but it’s apparently a thing.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,093 reviews1,509 followers
November 4, 2019
Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan is the second book of the young adult fantasy Girls of Paper and Fire series. This fantasy series is one that continues the story onward that was started in the first book so it is highly recommended to begin the series with the first books, Girls of Paper and Fire.

While this is a young adult fantasy series again I must stress these should be for the more mature audience. There are several things included in the series that deserve a bit of warning before picking it up, violence, slavery, abuse, rape along with animal cruelty.

Natasha Ngan’s world she’s created consists of three different levels to the society known as castes. First we have the Paper caste which are the lowest in the world of Ikhara, this caste consists of the humans which includes the main character Lei of the story. Then we have the Steel caste which consists of a cross between humans and demons. And then there is the Moon caste which are fully demon including the King that rules Ikhara.

The story began with Lei who was born with brilliant golden eyes which set her apart from other humans and drew the attention of the Demon guards who kidnapped her away from her family to take her as an offering to the King. Every year eight girls are taken to become the Paper Girls and served up as concubines to the King but this year Lei has become number nine.

Girls of Storm and Shadow picked up where the story had ended rejoining Lei and Wren and seemed to me to get off to a somewhat slow start from how I remembered the first book. As the book goes on I got that dreadful “middle book” feeling, the one in which it seems the second book spends half it’s time remembering the first then the other half setting up for the next book feeling as if not much of importance takes place. In the end I found this one just so-so however I’m sure those that truly loved the first may enjoy it a tad more.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
February 24, 2020
Not long ago, I was a girl of paper and fire. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little bit of snow smother those flames.

Thank you so much to Natasha Ngan for an autographed ARC at BookCon!

Also, a shoutout to Raena, the librarian who runs the monthly YA book club at my local library who gave me her ARC of GoPaF when she heard I had an ARC of this one so I'd have a matching set, Angel bless her.



This book. THIS BOOK! GoPaF was excellent, but I enjoyed this one even more. It was thrilling, kept me reading, and oh my gosh it made me cry. How could you do that, Ngan??

My few complaints would be that Lei does a few stupid things here. Not too many, I loved her overall as a character, but there were a few things. Also, I have a few questions about the very end, and I hope Lei and Wren actually sit down and talk in book 3. They have some stuff they need to work out.

Oh my goodness, book 3. How can I wait??? This book was amazing! I don't know how I can wait over a year. Agh.

This book didn't feel rushed or like a quick read, but it felt nice and steady. It had a great pace is what I'm trying to say. I loved reading this chapter by chapter every night. Like Truthwitch, reading it this way made me feel more attached to the characters (who are AMAZING)

Natasha Ngan is an absolute tour-de-force in the YA world, worthy of being up there with Cassandra Clare and Leigh Bardugo. Prepare yourself, world.

4.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
967 reviews497 followers
November 13, 2019
This was a decent sequel...I loved it!!!! Usually I hate sequels in a trilogy as they as always so bleh and full of filler to stretch the storyline..but this I devoured.

Here we pick up more or less right where we left off with our band of characters hiding for their lives as they try and forge a path away from the demon king.

We hear a lot more about the geo-political landscape which was so interesting and the various castes as lei and her crew fight to found a better world..but nothing’s ever that easy right?

There were slightly obvious twists and turns but the writing more than made up for it. The pace, the description, it was just as amazing as the first book.

Many a moment here did also break my heart. Natasha sure does know how to do that to you.

This was a decent sequel setting up the finale perfectly and it was one I absolutely flew through.
Profile Image for Laura (thebookcorps).
834 reviews171 followers
August 4, 2022
Thank you very much to Hachette Australia for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is one of 2019’s most highly anticipated YA sequels and one I was desperate to get my hands on. Reading this book felt like I was going on this journey with the characters: following in their footsteps, laughing at their jokes, and experiencing their hardships and trauma. Ngan has crafted a beautiful, haunting sequel that has made me even more excited (and terrified) for the third and final book in the series.

The novel picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Girls of Paper and Fire, which Lei and Wren on the run from the Demon King’s assassins, after killing the king … or so they think. Lei and Wren have joined up with Wren’s father’s army and are given the incredibly important task of traveling through Ikhara and convincing powerful Demon clans to join the humans’ rebellion. Together with some new friends, Lei and Wren set off on this journey, but realise very quickly that war is far different than either girl had imagined.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is a novel about journeys in two different ways: one is Lei and Wren’s arduous journey through the country, fighting assassins and demons along the way; while the other is an emotional journey, as Lei and Wren together learn to process the trauma they suffered at the hands of the king and begin to recover. Ngan perfectly encapsulates both elements of these journeys in the novel, with equal page time given to the action, the hard discussions, and the sweetness.

While Girls of Paper and Fire was already a dark novel, Girls of Storm and Shadow is somehow darker, making the characters question what lengths they would go to for the greater good. In wartime, there are no good guys and bad guys, even when it seems as though there is, and Lei has a very hard time understanding that in reference to her lover, Wren. Wren makes some hard decisions in this novel, in the belief that doing bad things in the name of a good cause is worthy, which Lei cannot accept. It is heartbreaking to see them fight, especially after what they endured, but I also really enjoyed these scenes. So often when characters get together, that’s it — they’re forever happy, even in the midst of war. But Wren and Lei, despite being desperately in love, struggle with understanding one another’s viewpoints on war, death and sacrifice.

Lei’s character development was beautifully done and so incredibly inspiring too. She suffers from PTSD throughout the novel, dreaming about the Demon King and believing that he’s coming after her. As such, she decides to take her safety into her own hands, which is something that wasn’t possible during her time at the Demon King’s Court, by learning hand to hand combat. This is just one way that Lei begins to regain her sense of agency, as she acknowledges that the patriarchal world she lives in is a dangerous one for women. Part of this is Lei’s time in the Cloud Palace, a matriarchal society run by bird demons, where Lei sees a place where women can be free.

Despite the action scenes, Girls of Storm and Shadow is quite a slow book and that’s because not much actually happens, plot-wise. Much of the book is Lei’s group traveling to persuade clans to join their cause, but they only actually visit two. A slow book has never bothered me, but I do believe that some readers might become frustrated as nothing is actually resolved in this novel. Many issues and questions were raised but none answered, with some character and their plot lines appearing for a single chapter and then never returned to. This book very much feels like everything is leading up to the final book in the series, where all the characters and open plot lines will come to a head.

That being said, if you are a fan of character-driven books (as I am), you will love this book. While the plot is placed on the backend here, the characters of the book really shine: from Lei and Wren’s romance and recovery, to Bo and Nitta’s humour, to the sweet romance between Merrin and a certain someone. The characters absorbed me into this book and kept me glued to the page, even with the minimal action.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is a powerful novel about recovery and survival, and taking your destiny into your hands. It’s about how sometimes you have to do horrible things for the greater good, but how that might actually mean you’re just as evil as the person you’re trying to defeat. Most of all, this is a love story between two incredible badass women who will do anything to protect the other, and to fight for their freedom.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews344 followers
October 18, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by AB Endacott

Note: This review contains spoilers for Girls of Paper and Fire. You can find The Nerd Daily’s review for it here.

When I finished Girls of Paper and Fire, I thought it a beautifully written book set in a fabulously intricate fantasy world whose plot had a few things that bothered me. My consensus: a good book that I’d definitely recommend but not necessarily rave about.

Then it kept intruding into my thoughts.

I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Girls of Storm and Shadow. I wondered what events were triggered by the move against the Emperor. I wanted to dive back in to the lush, evocative world that Ngan crafts with each carefully chosen word. It’s why I requested to review it—I didn’t want to wait.

The book has two underlying central concepts: doing bad—possibly unforgivable—things for a good cause, and the way in which trauma haunts those who have been touched by it.

Sweeping across several locales from snowy mountaintops to tropical jungles, to arid desert, we chart Lei’s journey as she accompanies Wren and a band of rebels across the sprawling Ikhara as they try to secure allies in their coming fight against the Emperor. The variety of these settings give a clear sense of the geographical scope of the Ikhara, and offered free reign for Ngan’s powerful imagination. However, I was disappointed that the novel did not dive into the regional history of each setting in the manner that Ngan so spectacularly grounded her world in Paper and Fire.

To the backdrop of these locations, Lei undergoes significant character development that was deeply enjoyable to read; insisting on learning how to fight. This beautifully furthered her unwillingness to remain silent and compliant in the face of wrongdoing which was curbed by her limitations as a woman with no combat training, which limited some of her agency in Paper and Fire. It also beautifully intersected with one of the major underlying themes of the book; the way trauma lingers on a person as something indefinable yet inescapable.

After the horrific sexual violence she endures as the unwilling concubine of the Emperor, it makes sense that she would want to learn to defend herself. Similarly, all too often characters shrug off traumatic events from one book to another. Girls of Storm and Shadow does not shy away from the fact that enduring something horrific means you – and the world, for you – will never be the same again. As a survivor of sexual abuse, one of Ngan’s intentions in writing Paper and Fire was to prepare teens for the world as well as to tell the story for others to know they weren’t alone. The manner in which Storm and Shadow depicts the after-effects of trauma and the way the hands someone has laid on you without your consent remain on your skin, long after they have gone, provides a powerful narrative about what exactly the victims of sexual abuse endure.

Indeed, Ngan clearly outlays the difficulty of existing in a man’s world, leaving women subject to this kind of trauma. While Ketai Hanno, the leader of the resistance movement and foster father of Wren, is only ‘on stage’ for a few pages of the story, what he would make Lei into as the ‘moonchosen’, the paper (human) girl who nearly killed the Emperor, and how he would use her, are questions that dominate the book. Thus, his presence is a tangible thing, a counterpoint to the manner in which the Emperor, although only ‘on stage’ for a short time, dominates so much of Lei’s thoughts.

These complex depictions of how men use and manipulate those around them for their own ends, and how women as less powerful are the most vulnerable to this, are the strongest parts of the book, and the uneasy fear of how it will affect the lives of the characters meant I was virtually unable to put the book down. While these themes may seem somewhat clichéd, Ngan sidesteps traversing well-trodden ground by working through Lei’s empathy. Her pity for those who do the unthinkable because they have been taught to think such acts are necessary for the greater good offers a compassionate way of seeing such behaviour, and gives nuance to a delicate, complex narrative. It’s refreshing, not overstated, and gives depth to the book that means it’s lingered in my mind despite having finished it several days ago.

That being said, the second book in a trilogy is subject to certain pitfalls, and Storm and Shadow falls in to some of them. It is difficult to advance the meta plot of the first book, and set up the denouement to arrive in the third, while also offering a reasonably contained narrative. I felt very little, if indeed anything, was resolved in Girls of Storm and Shadow. Many questions were raised and none answered – not even the question of why Bo and Nitta were exiled from their clan.

Similarly, Ngan picks up the narrative thread of other characters to give us glimpses of what’s happening in the palace, yet doesn’t return to them. It means the plot itself didn’t feel particularly tight.

Fortunately, the strength of Ngan’s prose mitigated much of the frustration that arose out of the lack of resolution (and the fact that the book ends on a huge cliffhanger).

Girls of Storm and Shadow is not a perfect book. But then again, few are. For the second book in a trilogy, it has a few flaws that could have been avoided – I would happily have read a longer book for a bit more detail and resolution. That being said, I cannot wait for book three to come out, and you can bet that I’ll read it as soon as it is available.
Profile Image for L. | That_Bookdragon.
252 reviews12 followers
March 5, 2020
3/5 ⭐️

"Being vulnerable isn't a flaw. It is the most beautiful thing in the world. If you were invincible, being brave would be easy."

I am so torn about this book! I absolutely loved Girls of Paper and Fire, it was a fantastic story which I devoured in I believe two days during finals season because I just couldn't put it down. As such, I had very high expectations for this and unfortunately I was left a little bit underwhelmed. 3 stars is still a high rating for me, that's for sure, but I felt like there was something missing from the story and that sometimes it dragged for too long. I was bamboozled I love this word omg on more than one occsion however by unforeseen plot twists so that was fantastic even if it meant my heart got crushed and stepped on relentlessly. And omg, that wlw representation, can we please have more of it in books? Thank you.

Anyway, I will still pick up the third book because this story and its world are so well-written even if at times it felt like some of them acted a bit strange. I can't wait to see how the trilogy ends!

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Profile Image for Beth.
676 reviews572 followers
November 4, 2019
Why does it have to end like that?!

I can’t believe I’ve got an Arc for this! I know what my first book of October is going to be :))
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