Whew, this book was darker than I expected; it centers around sexual abuse.
As a member of the lowest cast, the Papers, Lei is human. But because of her golden eyes, Lei is stolen from her home to become a Paper Girl—a concubine for the Demon King.
I liked the sapphic romance that developed, though it felt a little insta-love to me. The worldbuilding was interesting, but this book was definitely tough to get through at times because of the dark themes. That being said, the best thing about this book is how well Ngan handled the dark themes. She depicted the upper caste, called the Moon caste, well by making them grotesque and sometimes beautiful through Lei’s eyes. Reading about the demons/Moon caste was also uncomfortable at times, especially since they’re described as humanoid animals. But through the grotesque demons, the castes, and the horrors of the Paper Girls, Ngan hammered themes of survival, rebellion, and sexual abuse/violence.
While I liked the plot, some plot points would’ve worked better if revealed earlier. Because the main plot was introduced late in the story, the beginning felt a little slow and meandering in comparison.
If you can handle dark themes, and are looking for a sapphic YA fantasy with strong female characters, then I think this one will work for you.
TW: Sexual abuse/violence/rape, sex trafficking, a forced medical exam, physical abuse, animal death, war themes