OWN VOICES: Krueger is a Filipino-American writer, and this book is a spectacular reimagining of various Asian cultures (the Philippines, China, Korea, and Japan) that celebrates Asian culture and also thoughtfully comments on post-colonial themes.
YA CROSSOVER FANTASY: The fast-paced storytelling and character-driven drama of this book recalls popular YA crossover epic fantasies like S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass and R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War.
FRESH POP CULTURE AESTHETIC: The world of this book also recalls beloved Asian pop culture artifacts that are totems for a new generation of readers, like Fullmetal Alchemist and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Paul writes for a younger generation of readers who discovered fantasy through video games and anime rather than Tolkien.
NEW PERSPECTIVE ON FANTASY: Paul was inspired to write this book both by his family’s cultural history (as Filipinos living in a post-colonial culture), his experience as an Asian-American with living between two cultures, and his love of Asian pop culture and anime.
“A heady look at postcolonial emotions, Asian cultures, and anime influences…a well-built magical world of warring factions.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“With a well-realized world and strong characters, many of whom are queer, Krueger’s novel will feel as fast-paced and exciting as its animated influences and leave the reader longing for more. Highly recommended for any fantasy fan.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A post-colonial fantasy draws on Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino cultures for a multinational tale of political intrigue…. This Asian-influenced sociopolitical drama explores the complications that ensue after the war, when no one’s hands are clean. Characters face the consequences of the choices they made during the conflict and consider whether it’s possible to rise above deeply ingrained prejudices and forge alliances with former enemies. Such grave matters are leavened by amusing banter, solid action, and two charming nascent romances of opposites. As tasty as the mushroom adobo that appears in the book both as food and metaphor.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Starts with a bang and never slows down…Think Pokémon meets The Golden Compass, with plenty of original and frightening twists along the way…. Krueger deftly gives each character their own point of view without losing sight of the novel’s central theme: We’re stronger together than we are alone.”—BookPage
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