It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Chloe Gong. I adored These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends to no end. I’ve hosted Chloe a bunch of times on social media and the blog and so when I got the chance to read Foul Lady Fortune, I knew I had to. Chloe’s writing is thrilling and this book exceeded all my high expectations.
It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.
Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption for her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.
Code name: Fortune.
But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.
To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Look, I had rocket high level expectations for Foul Lady Fortune. Chloe Gong has been taking the world by storm with her previous books. So I was expecting nothing short than loving this book. And I don’t even have words for how much I adore it. Chloe surpassed what I thought about her writing, the character depth, and the thrills. If you loved her previous books, this is a must read because Rosalind shines.
The Character Dynamics
The writing is gorgeous both in lyrical quality, but also in her ability to make a statement just with a sentence. I’m here for a competent spy and Rosalind and Orion are really giving it to us. There’s tons of subterfuge, layers of betrayal, and webs of lies. But what captivated me the most were the characters. Because while I was intrigued by Rosalind from These Violent Delights, we truly get to know how deeply she was hurt by the betrayal, her complex family relationships, and pieces of her soul.
Not to mention the fact that Rosalind, and like most of the cast of Foul Lady Fortune definitely are queer! We love canon bisexuality, demisexual, and aroace! Don’t even get me started on how much I love Orion. We love a witty, snarky, character! How quickly I fell in love with his banter and persona which all hide the pain of family disappointments and betrayal. I loved how both Orion and Rosalind can recognize glamorous homes full of empty rooms and family that can wound with looks. How they know what it’s like to sacrifice for family to pull strings and creates covers.
The way their relationship unfolds and blooms also not only thrilled me – made me truly cackle and weep – was a pure masterpiece. There were so many scenes where I laughed aloud alone in my apartment. Not to mention that Chloe allows us to get to know Rosalind, Ceila, and OTHER characters from the past books, so well. She truly proves that there’s so much more to the eye to side characters than we ever see.
Politics and Twists and Turns
But amidst all the character developments, Foul Lady Fortune is driven by questions of colonization. Of wondering if we should take rules with faces we recognize or ones we don’t. If we can possibly stand against a tsunami of interests, manipulation, and bids for power. How every time you meet someone new, it’s this dance, this test, of knowing what you can or cannot say, where their allegiances lie. Layers upon layers of falsehoods and masks we wear to the world. Wars within the borders and between the our door and the sidewalk.
And the twists and turns? They had me literally screaming. My notes for the whole last 20% consist purely of, “OMG”. You’ll have to take my word for it. Chloe truly outdoes herself with the layers of intrigue and tension. With these breadcrumbs she sprinkles throughout the book. All the puzzle pieces that are left throughout Taylor Swift level. Immediately I wanted to re-read Foul Lady Fortune to figure out just when certain elements or comments were introduced – that’s how good it is!
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Foul Lady Fortune is a must read. Chloe examines divided families and loyalty lines. The wounds only our family knows how to make. Orion and Rosalind explore what it’s like to live within masks of our own making. Walking around on a tightrope with a smile plastered to our face – but what happens when we fall? Torn apart by inner conflicts, sides of loyalty and battle fields in bedrooms. To read this book is an easy decision if you loved the first duology and if you have, then you kind of have to read this one.