This book was sitting comfortably for me at maybe a 3/3.5 until 250 pages later when things took an absolute turn. For the longest time I hadn’t been attached to Rosalind, and half the character arcs had me absolutely confused as to what their necessity was in the book. But MY GOD, how all parties and subplots managed to connect was beyond me. Also, the Hongs and Langs, man. I NEED MORE.
Pre-ordered the shit out of the next book, that’s for sure.
FOUL LADY FORTUNE
by Chloe Gong
Margaret McElderry Books, September 2022
YA historical romance, mystery
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies
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.
After cooling my temperamental head a bit, I ping-ponged over my initial rating of this book, because it seemed so high considering it took me a little over 200 pages to actually start liking where this book was going. Despite the introduction to this badass immortal assassin and her equally badass fake-husband aristocrat spy, I was dead set on not really liking this book. And I think that was because my opinion of Chloe Gong’s previous duology, These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends, was at the highest levels already. Anything outside of Roma and Juliette and Ben and Marshall kind of paled in comparison. I mean, Chloe frigging Gong made me like Romeo and Juliet, just about my least favorite Shakespeare play on the planet. So what on earth was she going to do with her version of As You Like It?!
(Confession, I recently finished As You Like It, which I read because of Foul Lady Fortune, and I will say Chloe’s only elevated it, not diminished it.)
It also didn’t help that I wasn’t a fan of Rosalind Lang from the previous two books. And it took such a long time for me to even care about her problems. But I don’t know what happened between the first 200 pages and the rest of the book, because Rosalind started to grow on me. And I even loved her by the end of the story.
I think my enjoyment of Foul Lady Fortune also was due to the Hong brothers and Alisa. Oliver and Orion had so many clapbacks and so many great lines in the book I had to tab several of them.
Like damn, Oliver. That’s dedication to country, but also to love, and I’m here for it.
“You were my first hope that there might be something else. A third category of memory. A future separate from the past. I have spent years thinking that if I just do the right thing, then I can go back to how it used to be. But maybe I don’t want that anymore.”
My gawd, Orion. Like make me cry why don’t you.
Mostly I loved the back and forth between the main characters, particularly between Rosalind and Orion. They had me grinning from ear to ear, sometimes laughing out loud, and other times just awwing because you literally see the moment where Rosalind actually does start to fall in love with the guy (but I meaaaaan…Orion be calling her “beloved” half the time and I’m practically melting already). The fact that this book somehow utilized the fake dating undercover spies trope was just too much to pass up. I only wish there was more of Orion’s point of view in the story, though I do understand the reason that there wasn’t so much of one. The ending had me screaming, because now I’m worried how the point of view of some of these characters will play out. Maybe Orion will literally carve his love poems on trees.
Actually, maybe that shouldn’t happen, lmao.
Overall, Foul Lady Fortune was nothing short of absolutely chaotic. Do I know the full extent of what was happening in the book? NOPE. Did I revel in the bedlam anyway? OH YES.
Also also also, Chloe, ma’am. Answer for your crimes.
“What trick are you leading up to?”
“There is no trick. I allow this because I love you.”
Ma’am YOU. ARE. KILLING. ME.
By the end of the book, Miss Chloe had me going absolutely feral.
But then again, what else is new? She’s done this for her other two books, how am I even surprised at this point?
4.5 out of 5 cookies! Seriously, the end has me on tenterhooks, and Foul Heart Huntsman cannot get here fast enough.