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Foul lady fortune
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Publishers Weekly Review
A disgraced, immortal assassin reluctantly partners with a high-profile playboy while investigating a slew of brutal murders in Gong's (Our Violent Ends) enticing duology opener, a take on William Shakespeare's As You Like It set in 1931 Shanghai. After betraying her family and nearly succumbing to fever, 19-year-old Rosalind Lang was administered a mysterious serum that granted her healing abilities and stopped her from aging. Now, four years later, she is employed by nationalists under the code name Fortune to hunt reprobate Communist White Flowers. When a series of murders causes unrest in Shanghai, and members of the invading Japanese empire come under suspicion, Rosalind's new orders involve posing as a married couple with nationalist spy Orion Hong and, together, infiltrating a local Japanese paper to uncover the perpetrator. Cavalier and flippant as he may seem, Orion hides dark secrets of his own that could endanger their mission and even Rosalind's immortal life. While the duo's repartee is sizzling on its own, their relationships with secondary characters--including Rosalind's transgender sister Celia and Orion's brother Oliver, both Communist Party members--add tension that further complicates Gong's pulse-pounding caper. An author's note provides historical context. Ages 14--up. Agent: Laura Crockett, Triada US. (Sept.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--In 1931, Shanghai is divided among the Nationalists, the Communists, and scheming Japanese Imperialists, while Rosalind Lang, the now ostensibly immortal former burlesque dancer and member of Shanghai's fallen gangster elite, has become a sleepless assassin for the Nationalists. Once suspicious killings begin sweeping Shanghai, Rosalind is given a new assignment--one where her cover relies on a false marriage to flirtatious playboy Orion, who is really seeking to restore face to his family after his father was accused of treason. Meanwhile, Rosalind's twin sister and Orion's older brother are staunch Communists on their own mission in the countryside. In and out of Shanghai secrets abound, but despite each character's relationships being fundamentally based on deception, there are no overdone miscommunication tropes to be found. The blend of fantasy, historical fiction, and espionage creates a fast-paced story with wide reader appeal, and although it is helpful to have first read Gong's debut duology, it is not necessary. Reluctant readers may find the romanized, untranslated inclusion of phrases in Shanghainese and Russian frustrating, but their placement augments the strong anti-imperialist themes within the text. Most characters are East Asian; Celia is a transgender woman, Rosalind is portrayed as demisexual, and Orion and his sister are bisexual. VERDICT A first purchase for any public or high school library.--Austin Ferraro
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