Title: Girls of Storm and Shadow
Author: Natasha Ngan
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ
Age Range: (Upper) YA
Let me start by saying that I loved Girls of Paper and Fire so much I honestly wasn’t sure how Natasha Ngan was going to top herself – and yet she still managed to surprise me and invoke very real and raw emotions with Girls of Storm and Shadow. As soon as I finished Girls of Paper and Fire I immediately started theorizing on what Girls of Storm and Shadow would explore, and while I was completely and totally wrong for the most part, I loved the route that Ngan went to explore the aftermath of all of the events in the first novel.
Set right after the events of Girls of Paper and Fire, Girls of Storm and Shadow follows Lei and Wren as they try to adjust to life outside of the Hidden Palace. Along with their allies, they learn devastating news – the Demon King lives. Now, they must risk their lives in order to finish what they started, and end him once and for all. They travel across Ikhara to convince other clans to join their fight, and are faced with numerous obstacles along the way. Meanwhile, back at the Hidden Palace, something sinister is growing, fueled by dark magic and a plot for revenge. Lei and Wren must do whatever they can to stop the Demon King, but what will they lose in their effort to do so?
In one short word, Girls of Storm and Shadow is about sacrifice. What are we willing to sacrifice in a time of war? Is it sacrificing ourselves to a cause we deeply believe in, or maybe sacrificing our ideals in an attempt to try and create a better world? It may even be sacrificing others for the sake of the mission – or maybe it’s all of the above. It’s about what parts of ourselves we are willing to let go of in the midst of war, and what’s important enough for us to try and hold onto no matter what.
Girls of Storm and Shadow is also about survivors. Not only did Lei and Wren survive their battle with the Demon King, but they managed to survive everything they went through beforehand as well. Even so, once they’re away from the Hidden Palace and are fully able to reflect on the horrific abuse they endured, they realize that surviving is only the first step. Now they must process what happened to them and try to heal – but there are some scars you just can’t ignore.
It admittedly took me a lot longer to get invested in Girls of Storm and Shadow than it did for Girls of Paper and Fire, but once the book picked up I had a hard time putting it down. I loved how Natasha Ngan explored morality and how people can have the best intentions and still hurt the ones closest to them. If you’re like me and you LOVE The Good Place, it just makes Girls of Storm and Shadow that much more enjoyable to read.
Overall, Girls of Storm and Shadow is about sacrifice, survival, and most importantly, resilience. It’s about the people we let ourselves turn into and the versions of ourselves we leave behind. It’s about how we move forward, but also how we are able to face our own reflections when the dust settles. Girls of Storm and Shadow is, at its core, a champion of girls and survivors everywhere, and is both timely and timeless.
Links for Girls of Storm and Shadow