“I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one.”
So I read this book at the beginning of March in all honesty, but I want to get my thoughts out in the open about this book. There were so many good points in this book that made it such an intriguing read. This fantasy book was published in November 2018 and I hadn’t really heard that much about it until I received it in my Owlcrate box! Right off the bat, the cover just automatically pulled me in (because let’s be real, we do judge the book by the cover). The story follows our main character Lei, who is a member of the lowest caste, as she is chosen to be a consort for the Demon King. This is a tradition that has been happening for a long time but usually there is only eight girls chosen. This year Lei is the ninth.
Let me start out with saying that this book is not for someone who has issue with sexual assault/abuse, violence, or animal violence. Yes, it has all of those things in here and if you are uncomfortable or are triggered by any of those things, this book is not for you.
Lei is a very hot-tempered person and throughout the book is just very angry. But this is completely reasonable because I mean, anyone would be angry if they were taken from their family to be a consort. Especially without their consent! I never really figured out how to exactly say her name but apparently you can’t help but smile when you say it. Lei’s time in the castle is full of lessons and friendship and love. But unfortunately, there was also a very large amount of sexual assault, seeing as the whole premise revolves around her being taken to be a consort it makes sense. Lei watches every one of her friends come back from the Demon King stunned and in tears. And when it comes to her turn it’s no different. This is a very difficult thing to read and it is going to make people uncomfortable. I think Natasha handled this very well though because she made the King incredibly unlikeable. He had no redemption arc or anything. He was just a nasty person.
My absolute favorite part of this book has to be the romance! Surprise! This book has a WLW romance in it and wasn’t advertised that way. What a shock. But this romance was so beyond cute! It was a slow burn, especially since Lei herself is just figuring out her own sexuality. Lei’s own understanding and complete surrender to loving this person was just the most adorable thing. And while Lei was a great main character, I honestly was always looking forward to reading about the love interest more than our main character. Overall, the romance was really well done and was the best part of the book in my opinion!
While our characters and romance were nicely developed, the plot was hardly there. We honestly just stayed in one part of the castle for over half of the book and then was rushed into a poorly thought out plot. All of a sudden, Lei decides she’s this warrior and is gonna defeat the King but doesn’t even actually make a plan. She just kind of wings it. So the plot just ended up being rushed and it definitely took away from the beauty of the book. The book has such nice characters, romance and feminist themes that it’s easy to just get swept away by the empowerment of it but after I finished the book, I just felt like it was lacking in a big way. The ending was by far the most underwhelming thing making all that build up just dwindle into nothing.
Overall, I gave Girls of Paper and Fire 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was a really strong beginning and middle but the end just was underwhelming. I will be reading the sequel but it isn’t high up on my TBR pile.