Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
First line: Our shop is busy this morning.
Summary: In a land where the inhabitants are separated into castes, the lowest caste is the Paper caste. Eight girls each year from the Paper caste are selected to serve the king. When Lei, a shop girl from a small village, is taken from her family to the palace she is determined to not let her fate be decided by the king. While learning the lessons of a consort she does the unthinkable and falls in love. However, danger and intrigue are entering her life and she must decide where she stands in the coming conflict.
Highlights: The cover is absolutely stunning! This book reminded me a lot of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. The world building is beautiful and the characters are very unique. There are three castes in Ikhara. The Paper caste are humans. The Steel caste have human and animal features. And at the top is the Moon caste who are completely animal in a human form. The descriptions were wonderfully done of each character and their appearance.
Young adult books are slowly becoming more grown up and inclusive. I really enjoy this even though the themes are sometimes hard to deal with. I liked the relationship that Lei forms while living at the palace. It was a nice slow romance that built rather than just happened instantly. The author delves into scary issues such as rape and slavery. While reading these are hard it is a real thing in this world. I think it was handled very well. We know it happens but it is not overly graphic. It also shows the girls dealing with it afterwards. Having each other to talk to about it helps them deal with their situation which is important.
FYI: Trigger warning is sexual abuse and violence.
Being able to work around books is a dream! I read anything but my favorite genres are historical fiction and YA. Give me anything set in Tudor England or teenage fantasy novel and I am set.