One of November’s most exciting releases was Jade City, the adult fantasy debut of award-winning author Fonda Lee. Set in one of the most gorgeously-crafted and exceptionally plausible fantasy universes I’ve encountered, Jade City is a crime family drama filled with enthralling action scenes and political intrigue.
These aspects ground Jade City in a world that feels lived-in and so plausible that it’s almost harder to imagine it’s not real than having to suspend disbelief. The city the Kauls occupy and control is lusciously real, from the relative opulence of the clan homes to the streets and slums where the jadeless live out their everyday lives. Janloon reads in many ways as claustrophobic: an insular city where anyone who can use jade may find themselves trapped in a life, a family, a clan that can’t be escaped.
(Read the full review at Unbound Worlds)
Another aspect of the novel I appreciated was the complexity and character development of Kaul Shae, who returns to Janloon at the start of the book after fleeing the city in disgrace because her grandfather rejected her romantic relationship with an Espenian man. Shae is much more sophisticated and worldly than her brothers, despite her age; her time spent in college in Espenia has given her significantly more experience outside Kekon — and outside Green Bones culture — than anyone else in the story. She’s a strong warrior, but she’s also a clever and talented tactician, and it’s easy to see why her brothers are trying to bring her back into the family business despite her reservations.
(Read the full review at Girls in Capes)