Natasha Ngan – Girls of Storm and Shadow (4 stars)

Natasha Ngan – Girls of Storm and Shadow

Engaging and expansive sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire

Natasha Ngan's Girls of Paper and Fire was, arguably, one of 2018's best received YA fantasy novels. With a last-page revelation leaving Lei's fate at the edge of a cliff, the expectations for the second instalment in the trilogy could have easily come crashing down due to a disappointing execution.

However, if the first book taught us anything, is that this story of demons, love and magic is more than safe in Ngan's hands. It takes a skilled writer to keep readers as stuck to the page during a wordless trip across the desert as a vicious battle scene. Even something as simple as a basic description of food will leave you salivating for a bite, with how vivid her prose is.

While the first novel was mostly contained to the court of the Demon King, Girls of Storm and Shadow takes on the task of introducing us to the bigger world of Ikhara, with the core cast of characters (which all feel equally developed) journeying to several courts to garner support in the upcoming war. New points of view are also introduced at key moments, filling in the gaps that Lei herself is unable to, masterfully keeping the stakes at a high.

An engaging and expansive look at this imaginative world of Moon and Steel caste demons, its intricate politics and the realities of war, Girls of Storm and Shadow more than fills up the shoes left by its predecessor, leaving us in held breath for what is to come.

Out Tue 5 Nov via Hodder & Stoughton.