Girls of Storm and Shadow is the second novel in the massive hit series, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. The first novel was an emotional and powerful read and thus was obviously an instant hit.
Once again we're back with Lei and Wren. They survived their ordeals in the first novel, but that doesn't mean that they're free. Lei has become known as the Moonchosen, thanks to her part in killing the Demon King. Only...she didn't actually kill him, did she? It turns out that demon kings are a lot harder to kill than you might expect.
Now Lei and her allies are trying to move forward in their plans. They want to stage a revolution. Otherwise killing the Demon King (or so they believe) will have served no purpose. The cycle of pain and suffering will continue, until they find a more permanent way to end it.
“Yet like most lies people tell themselves, it came apart in the shadow and quiet of the night.”
Warnings: If you've read Girls of Paper and Fire, then you've already got a good idea of how dark this series can get. This novel will touch upon concerns such as slavery, rape, and sexual assault, torture and murder, and PTSD.
Girls of Storm and Shadow had a lot to live up to, thanks to how dynamic and powerful Girls of Paper and Fire is. But I am very pleased to say that it lived up to it, and perhaps exceeded it in some ways.
As it's predecessor, this was a powerful novel. Watching Lei try and take ownership of what had been done to her was tough, and as such, it was extremely emotional. But it was also inspiring. And we can't ignore the fact that she came above it all, and she did what she had to in order to make a positive change in her life.
This whole novel was heavily focused on what comes after the deposing of a monarch – though we all know that the king isn't actually dead (the conclusion of the last novel made that clear). That means forming alliances, making plots, and doing everything possible to try and make some actual changes within a society. Which is easier said than done.
As such, we got to see a whole lot more of the world this time around. And honestly? I'm already anxious to see some more. I'm fascinated by this world. More than that, I'm looking forward to seeing the changes that Lei could bring with her.
It was wonderful to see Lei and Wren again. It's been fascinating seeing where their relationship has gone, and how they both handled their trauma in such different ways. It's a poignant reminder about how we're all different – and how these two girls came from very different backgrounds.
And of course, I'm going to be very interested to see where their plots go in the future. Both as individuals, and as a couple. Further proof that Natasha Ngan is a superb writer.
There were a plethora of new secondary characters, and it didn't take any time at all for me to find myself emotionally attached to them. Ngan has a way of writing these amazing and wonderful characters. They're in stark contrast to the villains of the series, who are so easy to hate and despise.
On that note, there was a constant sense of foreboding in this novel. Perhaps it is because we know the truth, while Lei and her allies had to discover it for themselves. Seeing things from the enemies' side from time to time only served to increase this tension.
While I'm sad that Girls of Storm and Shadow has ended, I have to admit that the ending was oddly appropriate for the story Ngan is telling. It fits perfectly, and honestly, as much as I'm anxious to see more, I think that was the right point to end this novel. Though I will be curious to see if others agree with that sentiment.
Now I'm just going to have to settle in and wait for news on the next novel, which doesn't currently have a title (that I'm aware of). But that's okay, I'm patient. Or at least, I can pretend to be.