Nghi Vo does contemporary fantasy like no other.
The thing with Vo is that she never explains her magic system. For some people I can imagine that this is incredibly frustrating and confusing. For me, I can see that the magic has rules, has limits, and that everything in the story is acting within those bounds. I don’t need to know how the magic system works in order to enjoy the story. The magic is ingrained in the society, our main character doesn’t need it explained to her therefor it is never explained to us. If that is something that bothers you, then I suggest you pass on this. Because there is a lot of magic, and it is never, ever, explained.
The story was engaging and exciting and I felt myself drawn to the characters. Luli was power hungry and ambitious and so brave in ways that make her incredibly fascinating. She makes decisions that you may not agree with, she’s morally grey in that way. We know how much people love morally grey characters like Evelyn Hugo, and I think people that like Evelyn Hugo who also like fantasy will enjoy the heck out of this. Luli has a gritty determination to make it as a Hollywood star and become a desired and admired person. Her journey getting there is intricate and complex and full of drama.
I really loved this novel by Vo because she writes such captivating stories. Plus this was queer as hell. Vo’s ability to tell a compelling story in so few pages is truly incredible. I can tell that with another author this could end up being a series by pure addition of fluff and extraneous content. But no, Vo sees a story and doesn’t fill it up with nonsense or unnecessary detail. Everything is as it should be, and that makes it fun to read.