Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June C L Tan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 12th, 2021 (Harper Teen)
Synopsis: Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.
In an empire on the brink of war…
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.
Thank you to the publisher, Harper Teen, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ahn, a peasant girl with no knowledge of her past or family, struggles to support herself and her adoptive grandmother, all the while hiding magical abilities that could get her killed. Altan, a prince in exile, and the rightful heir to the throne, has been biding his time to take back what is his and avenge the murders of his family. When their paths cross, Altan realizes that Ahn’s unique – and lethal – form of magic is what he needs to reclaim the throne. Ahn, on the other hand, sees the opportunity to find out about her past and also gain the control over her magical abilities that she desperately needs. While both of them are in this for their own gain, hiding many secrets, they will have to learn to trust each other in order to save the kingdom.
While I definitely enjoy a good series, I’m really happy to see that standalone novels appear to be making a comeback in YA fantasy and books like this prove that it’s possible to have a level of in depth world-building, strong character arcs and a solid plot all within a single book. There wasn’t a single wasted page or boring moment in this book and the pacing was perfect. The story itself and the narration were so intriguing that I didn’t put the book down at all – I can’t remember the last time I was able to read a nearly 500 page book in 2 hours.
Altan and Ahn were excellent central characters and their alternating POV chapters were easy to follow. Despite the rapid pace of the book, I felt that there was enough time spared for character development to really get to know them and feel invested in their arcs. Ahn’s character arc was the highlight of this book, in my opinion, and her journey from peasant girl terrified of her abilities, to learning to come to terms with it and control it was an intriguing one to follow. The secondary characters were equally interesting and while I would have loved for them to have had more page time, what they did have was pretty good.
I did feel however, that the climax of the book was very rushed and was over in a matter of pages, a blink of an eye compared to the rest of it. There was a lot of potential for that scene and the plot would have allowed for it too, so I do wish that it had been drawn out a little, no matter that the book would have been longer. We also get only a very basic idea of the magic system and it was really interesting, so I would have liked more of an explanation on that as well.
While the epilogue does leave open the possibility of this becoming a series and it raises a few questions, I actually find myself hoping there isn’t a sequel. Jade Fire Gold works as a standalone and it was a refreshing change as I can count on my hands the number of fantasy novels I’ve read that were this good and weren’t part of a series. Overall, this was a wonderful read, and after such an amazing debut novel, I’m looking forward to what this author writes next. I’d definitely recommend this book for fantasy fans!
Jade Fire Gold releases on October 12th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!