Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June CL Tan
Release Date: 4/11/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 32
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Hodder and Stoughton, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Her destiny. His revenge.
In an empire on the brink of war . . .
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her lethal magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
This was a fun read but lacked a little something for me to make it an outstanding read. I really enjoyed reading Jade Fire Gold, but I found myself just wanting a little more from it, more action, more depth in the Character’s their motivations and the world that they are traversing. There were just a few moments where it felt predictable and it seemed to jump quickly through events that just left events feeling a bit hollow and didn’t have emotional impact.
I will say the writing is elegant and flows beautifully. The Characters are enjoyable. I particularly loved some of the side characters. They really brought an element of fun and some mystery. They kept you guessing about motives more than the main characters so I found them to be more intriguing overall. The plot, while it doesn’t shine with originality offers a comfort in its own recognisable and slightly predictable way as you traverse really beautiful and detailed world building. I thought the back stories of our two perspectives were incredibly detailed and interesting and I wish more of that had made it into the plot as they felt less predictable and had more emotional depth.
I think what bothers me most is the weird insta-love plotline. The way that progresses is just jarring. It starts off as a fun flirty romance that seems like it is going to build in in a fun enemies to lovers style way but instead in the middle of the book it goes from 0 to 60 in seconds and we go from hating each other to madly in love skipping all the fun ground work that was promised in the first flirty meeting. This becomes kind of jarring as the story goes on as one of the characters pines for the other in a really disjointed fashion. It just felt to me like we lost a bit of the build up which was the exciting part especially as it hinted at the "there is only one bed" trope, a fan favourite, then did nothing with it.
It seemed to just lack depth in a few areas, it promises a martial arts movies meets Chinese culture and Confucian tenets and while it really delivers in beautiful writing and detailed world building it lacks the action. Action scenes are sparsely described compared to the mythos and they just don’t seem as elegantly constructed as the rest of the book. They just feel like they are told from the wrong perspective. We would switch into the other perspective for certain fights that it would have had more of a call to action, rush of adrenaline if we had witnessed it in the perspective of the person fighting. It caused a loss in momentum which I guess is the same problem that the insta-love introduced is jarring momentum switches as weird times.
Overall, this isn’t a bad read, It is fun and entertaining it just lacked some originality and had some pacing issues that took away from a well written story. I would definitely like to read more from Tan maybe delving into some of the side characters and mythology?