Pub Day + ARC Review: Jade Fire Gold

Hello, bibliophiles! How is everyone doing? I’m basking in spooky season and continuing to binge all things witchy and ghosty and honestly? I’ve never been happier. My boyfriend and I are leaving on a little getaway today as well, so I’m looking forward to disconnecting for a couple days. Today is a continuation of my ARCS-I-read-months-ago-but-never-reviewed series and it just so happens that it is also this book’s pub day!

Goodreads synopsis:

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.

My review:

Overall rating: 3.5/5
Pages: 464
Genre: YA fantasy
Pace: Fast
Read if you loved: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Content warnings: Death of parents, gouging

One of my closest friends worked at HarperCollins for a short period of time during which she read an ARC of Jade Fire Gold. Ever since, she has been telling me to try to obtain one as well and after an Edelweiss rejection followed by failed attempts during various charity auctions, NetGalley came through for me. You guys…this was so much fun!!!

There is something familiar about Jade Fire Gold to the YA fantasy reader, but Tan manages to dazzle and surprise while also cocooning us in a comfortable space, making this such a special read. There are so many exciting tropes and character archetypes that I love. A lost heir and an orphaned Chosen One. Enemies to lovers. Hilarious best friends. Female assassin group. Magic inspired by Chinese mythology. Yet at the same time, it manages to stand out. Tan’s writing is beautiful, immersing you deeply into her world that is at once incredibly complex but veers away from being overwhelming. Instead, she sprinkles in little details at well-timed intervals, leaving you begging for more. The plot is also jam-packed – and I really did just have so much fun reading it. Tan has also spoken extensively on her IG about the deeper thematic undertones to Jade Fire Gold, including the erasure and rewriting of history by oppressors, and I would recommend checking that out!

There were, however, two big problems: pacing and loose ends. The first 80% is great but then so much happens in such little time. It felt like we were skipping past pivotal points in which I would have appreciated more insight into how the main characters were processing it all. I need to re-read the book just to go through the sequence of events more slowly because it was a whirlwind that could have benefitted from more careful (and in my opinion, impactful) reveals. Similarly, there were a couple of big things that happen that are left unexplained. Originally, I’d given this book 4* since I thought we simply *had* to get a sequel based on the sheer number of unanswered questions but since the author confirmed this was a standalone, I had to bump down the rating.

Overall, this was a great YA fantasy debut. I finished it in a little over a day because I was so engrossed and attached to the characters. If anything, I want so much more and I hope Tan gives it to us eventually because this has amazing potential. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Jade Fire Gold is out today!

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