Book Review: FOUL LADY FORTUNE by Chloe Gong

Title in dark burgundy on pink next to flask stopper shaped like a skull
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: first book in companion duology


Book cover for FOUL LADY FORTUNE: title in pink on a bottle on pink

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 from 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.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


FOUL LADY FORTUNE is a fun historical sci-fi spy caper.

There are spies and double crosses and people with aliases the reader may or may not know galore in this book. Everyone is scrambling for power in a city being ripped apart in the shadows by the communists and nationalists fighting for control. The Japanese are a threat simmering on a very low heat in the background, and I’m going to assume we see more of them in the next book.

All these spies and aliases are a great set up for various betrayals and having to suspect everuone, not to mention try to untangle the plots Rosalind and Orion find themselves caught in. it’s so hard to know who the “primary enemy” is, the one they need to focus on and defeat right now (everyone else is pretty much still an enemy as virtually no one can be trusted not to be out for themselves.) It makes for simmering tension and a compelling hook to pull you through.

Rosalind and Orion are the main characters and narrate most of the book but Celia, Alisa, and Phoebe (Orion’s sister) have scenes too. The number of narrators not only gives the book a feeling of scope but also lots of different sides into the spying, while masterfully hiding certain facts. It gives you a sense of just how much is at play, and how many parties are involved with uncertain loyalties.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fantasy/sci-fi boundaries, and it means I’ve revised my opinions of where all of Chloe Gong’s books (so far sit.) The impossible in these books are all explained by magic, serums and bugs, which (to me) makes them sci-fi. They just happen to be set in the past, rather than space – and the technology isn’t are “advanced” as usually found in sci-fi, but there’s nothing magical in the impossible. So these are now sci-fi in my books, and I hope we get more “unusual” sci-fi like this.

The book is apparently a very loose As You Like It reimagining, but I have to say, even knowing that and the play, I couldn’t really see the play in the book at all. Which is absolutely fine (if not brilliant) by me – As You Like It is one of my least favourite Shakespeare plays. The Shakespeare in this book comes from the occasional quote, including the very famous “all the world’s a stage” soliloquy.

I will be grabbing the next instalment in this series when it’s out, reading LAST VIOLENT CALL in the mean time.

Read my reviews of other books by Chloe Gong:

These Violent Delights (chronologically before this series):

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