Foul Lady Fortune

S. & S./McElderry. (Foul Lady Fortune: Bk. 1). Sept. 2022. 528p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781665905589.
Gr 9 Up–In 1931, Shanghai is divided among the Nationalists, the Communists, and scheming Japanese Imperialists, while Rosalind Lang, the now ostensibly immortal former burlesque dancer and member of Shanghai’s fallen gangster elite, has become a sleepless assassin for the Nationalists. Once suspicious killings begin sweeping Shanghai, Rosalind is given a new assignment—one where her cover relies on a false marriage to flirtatious playboy Orion, who is really seeking to restore face to his family after his father was accused of treason. Meanwhile, Rosalind’s twin sister and Orion’s older brother are staunch Communists on their own mission in the countryside. In and out of Shanghai secrets abound, but despite each character’s relationships being fundamentally based on deception, there are no overdone miscommunication tropes to be found. The blend of fantasy, historical fiction, and espionage creates a fast-paced story with wide reader appeal, and although it is helpful to have first read Gong’s debut duology, it is not necessary. Reluctant readers may find the romanized, untranslated inclusion of phrases in Shanghainese and Russian frustrating, but their placement augments the strong anti-imperialist themes within the text. Most characters are East Asian; Celia is a transgender woman, Rosalind is portrayed as demisexual, and Orion and his sister are bisexual.
VERDICT A first purchase for any public or high school library.

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