Foul Lady Fortune
Chloe Gong never fails to take her readers on a journey. Foul Lady Fortune opens a fresh series for her, but also serves as a continuation of the adventures of the Shakesperian characters in her These Violent Delights duology. This novel provides Rosalind’s story. I liked it only slightly less than the two TVD books, but it’s still a good, fun, well-built story that tugs the heartstrings and keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
It’s been four years since the events of Our Violent Ends. Rosalind Lang, friend of Juliet Cai and Romeo Montagov, has been dealing with the ramifications of being brought back from the brink of death in the wake of their struggles with the monsters that took their lives. Rosalind cannot sleep, she cannot age – and she cannot die. Any wound she receives heals quickly, which makes her a perfect candidate to spy for Shanghai, which she does under the code name Fortune.
She finds herself investigating a series of mysterious murders, for which Japanese Imperial Army soldiers are being blamed. While she investigates the increasingly dangerous situation, which involves working undercover and infiltrating a secret society, she poses as the wife of Orion Hong, a nationalist spy with whom she had a teenage romance. The conflicting agendas they both hold endangers their mission, and Rosalind soon realizes she might be falling for Orion again for real. Dering=do, backstabbing, brainwashing, triple-agency and other complications set in, and Rosalind’s life soon takes a completely unexpected twist which will change her world and the world of those around her forever.
Rosalind finally steps into the spotlight after supporting Juliette for so long, and her book is generally worthy of her character. Foul Lady Fortune leans less on the early dulology’s mythology and more on espionage, investigative work and the past that haunts her with every step. The story has Gong’s typical world building and usual strong character work, yet I felt that parts of it – specifically Rosalind’s attraction to Orion – is a retread of Roma and Juliette’s romance, right down to their being a teenage relationship that went south.
That doesn’t mean the romance in this book is bad or the character work is not compelling; I was just hoping Rosalind’s romantic path would be more interesting and unique, since in the Shakespearian world of Romeo and Juliet, she doesn’t have much meat on her bones as a character.
And then there’s that book-ending plot twist, which seems to reach for a happy ending for two characters who died tragically during the first duology but whose deaths had purpose and meaning behind them. If these characters’ original endings are undone I’ll be unhappy, because they were handled so perfectly. In any event, I wait for the next step in this duology, trepidatious but excited. Foul Lady Fortune will please those who have been waiting for more of the universe Gong has constructed, and more of the people who live within it.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier