Cover Image: Jade Fire Gold

Jade Fire Gold

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Member Reviews

*3.5 rounded up*

TL;DR:

A slow burn that was dead easy to read. Just didn’t fall in love with it.

I feel like a shitlord for saying this, but I’m struggling to remember what happened. I know I enjoyed this book in some way, shape or form (I rate things straight afterwards), but my poor brain has booked a one-way ticket to Forgotsville. After a bit of re-reading, this is what you’re in for:

✨ ~forbidden~ magic
✨ a wee thorn reclaiming job
✨ rags to riches vibes
✨ motherfucking REVENGE

Our main gal is Ahn. Like most in the YA world, her life has been anything but rosy. Ditched as a child and adopted by a nice older lady, Ahn is on the bottom rung of the poverty ladder. Naturally (as most do when they’re desperate), she dabbled in a wee bit of thievery which landed her down shit alley. Trying to escape with the sword she’d yoinked, her ~forbidden~ magic wooshes out her fingies and causes a chunk of chaos.

Whilst Ahn is wreaking havoc in the background, Atlan is lording it up as a secret prince whilst mourning the loss of his mother and sister. I’m also pretty sure he loses an eye at some point (?!) – maybe…
Anyway, this lad is dead keen to get his stolen throne back from his uncle and has no qualm about using nice people to get what he wants.

Basically two separate stories on a collision path that will bounce from ‘I’m going to straight-up murder you’, to ‘we could maybe be pals’ right to ‘ohh we could do the no pants dance’.


I loved the premise of this book so hard that I slammed the request button on Netgalley but this is a very slow burn with characters I just didn’t fall in love with.

Would I yell about this book to everyone I meet in the street? Probably not.

Will I read more in this world/by this nice author? Yes.
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This is the perfect example of all the great elements of a truly epic fantasy series all in one book! I absolutely loved it and was gripped from beginning to end. Everything was excellent. The characters, the story, the pacing. I can’t fault it!
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Unfortunately the formatting of the download of this arc is all wrong on my kindle. Big chunks of text seem to be missing and there are large sections of images that break the story up in strange places. 

Don’t want incorrect formatting to influence my enjoyment so I’ll be DNFing for now until I get a better copy! I’m really looking forward to this one. Thank you.
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Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and NetGalley for this arc of Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan.

This is an easy to read fantasy, with a lush, well-built world which captivates the reader from the first page. The pacing, the writing style and the characters - in particular Ahn - create a wonderful reading experience and, up until the very end, offers plot twists and narratives which are both unexpected and very welcome.
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Ahn and Altan find themselves as unlikely allies in helping Altan reclaim the throne; especially as one will have to kill the other in the end.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The narrative is split between Ahn and Altan.
Ahn is a peasant girl from a starving village near the ever-expanding desert.
The only family she has is her poorly grandmother, and Ahn can't afford the medicine any more. In an attempt to save her grandmother, Ahn tries (and fails) to steal a sword to sell. This ends with Ahn revealing that she has forbidden magic, and getting taken by a band of violent priests to the capital.

Altan was once the heir to the throne, but this was stolen by his uncle. All of Altan's family have been killed, and everyone thinks he is dead.
He learns of a Life Stealer - a rare and deadly magic-user, and plans to kill them to break the curse of the desert threatening the empire.

This started really well. I enjoyed the world that had been created. That magic existed, but was vilified, and only Diyeh priests can use it, making them an even more formidable force "keeping the peace".
The first half of the book, Ahn and Altan go about their separate stories, and fate only weaves them together later. At first I was disappointed at this separation; but in the end, I thought it was a very strong choice. You get to know the characters better, and the side characters and larger world are established.

The not-so-good.
I thought the pacing slowed a bit when they finally came together and went on an (unnecessary) journey; giving Ahn and Altan time to get to know each other, but it was hard to stay invested.
I thought the romance between them was understated in their words and actions (i.e. no mushiness - I like having no mushiness); but at the same time it was overstated in the narrative.

I also thought that the story wavered a little with what it wanted to be. For the most part, it felt like it was going to make a strong stand-alone; then changed its mind and became the first book in the series, giving a rather diluted ending.

Overall, this was a 3.5 out of 5 for me. It had some interesting storylines, and I'm interested in reading the rest of the series.
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This is very much a blow by blow classic fantasy YA. I was hoping for something a bit more innovative but found it wanting. The hero and heroine are boring and the romance was too heteronormative and angsty for my taste.
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This is easily one of the best fantasy books I have read this year.

There is nothing too graphic in this, but still, I will put up a trigger warning for physical violence.

Imagine a world with a divided magic system governed by power-hungry, corrupt rulers. It favours the strong and the rich while further oppressing the needy. It's fate and future depends upon the actions of our two MCs. Both are orphans, abandoned when they were kids. While one seeks vengeance, other is trying to escape destiny. Their paths collide and what comes next is a quest full of dangers, adventures and magic.

This book has a perfect blend of mythology and magic. It has mythological creatures granting magical wishes. I am totally in for this!

Not only this, the book also has a strong plot and well written storyline to support it. There are so many twists and turns! I could guess a few of them but some were totally unexpected.

I was 100% fully, completely immersed in this book the entire time I was reading it. That itself is an indicator of how good the story was!

The characters are so lovable, we can't help but root for them! Even the side characters. I just loved all of them! I wanted more of their friendship and camaraderie and love.

 The ending was so well executed. Up untill the very last page, I was sure that this was going to be a standalone, BUT that last page completely threw me off!
Now I am sure there will be sequel and I CANNOT WAIT to pick it up!
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find it meaningful that the author has drawn up her own feelings and experiences of Chinese culture within this book, it makes it even more meaningful to read.
There are some content warnings to read before reading and can be found in the authors Goodreads page. I like that thus has been included as there could be quite a few triggering things for different people but I understand why they were included, it makes the book what it is.

The world building was well done and the writing beautifully captured. I will definitely be reading this one again!
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Thank you so much to the publisher for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review.

Ahn and Altan are very different from one other. Ahn is an orphan, poor and without a true home, while Altan is the lost heir of the empire, his family killed and he looking for revenge and to get his throne back. When magic and fate bring them together, they are forced to help one other and save everyone and their country, discovering secrets and falling in love.

I loved reading this book! The writing style is amazing and the worldbuilding really fascinating, even though I wish I knew more about it. The enemies to lovers romance is nice, even though I couldn't see much chemistry between them.
Still the characterization is good, I loved Altan more then Ahn and the story is captivating and really well written. Definitely recommend it.
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His thirst for revenge and her unknown destiny intertwines before they even meet. Brought up by her adoptive grandmother, all Ahn knew was poverty and hardships. She never expected to be someone crucial in the world. Meanwhile, her magic is threatening to ruin the life that she knows. If it was discovered that she possessed forbidden magic, the Diyeh priests would burn her at the stake. Long gone was the peaceful empire built by his father. Bidding his time, Altan is somewhat ready to reclaim his rightful place. Alone in the world, without his parents and sister, Altan seeks a way to destroy the Life Stealer due to immense guilt inherited from an ancestor’s past actions.

Ahn’s hardy, independent and trusting. Though thrown into a world she never knew before, she adapted well. Broody and mysterious Altan has a difficult past. Witnessing his father’s murder and then losing both his mother and twin sister, Altan walked the earth alone. Their dynamic was pretty interesting at the beginning, but I thought things developed a little too quickly between them.

For someone who grew up with wuxia (武俠) and xianxia (仙侠) TV shows, Jade Fire Gold was bumped up my most anticipated releases of the year list. To differentiate the two genres, characters in xianxia practice qigong to attain immortality with supernatural powers set in a world with immortal beings such as gods, monsters, and mythical creatures involved. In fact, TV series such as Three Lives, Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (三生三世十里桃花) and The Untamed (陈情令) are some of my recent favorites. Wuxia features martial heroes who typically devote themselves to fighting evil and aiding the helpless. I remember watching The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳) on repeat when I was younger.

Since this is a xianxia-inspired novel, I did wish there were more elements of it. It might just be me for being overly picky though. Most of the xianxia/wuxia novels and TV shows follow the journey of the protagonist for years while they cultivate and become stronger. However, I would have to take into account that Jade Fire Gold is a standalone (that epilogue!!) With these limited pages, I believe June C.L. Tan did her best to explore the world of xianxia and its core elements.

I adored the elements of Chinese mythology. The Mandate of Heaven in which the Emperor is deemed worthy of ruling China with the blessings of the gods is an aspect that was explored. Dragons and phoenixes are common mythical creatures in Chinese stories. When mentioned together, they could describe fraternal twins (龙凤胎) which could be a nod to Altan and his twin sister.

Ultimately, I enjoyed June C.L. Tan’s debut novel. Jade Fire Gold definitely satisfied my need for more xianxia/wuxia content. However, I would have liked if there were more time to develop things properly. Though I liked their individual journey, I wanted more yearning and longing between Ahn and Altan, and more wuxia fighting. Despite that, being able to read a story embedded with Chinese mythologies and culture just warms my heart. With that epilogue, I’m hoping we get a continuation from June C.L. Tan because I’m intrigued.
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Marketed as: ‘Girls of Paper and Fire meets A Song of Wraiths and Ruin in June CL Tan's stunning debut, where ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, rich magic, and a captivating slow-burn romance collide.’

Jade Fire Gold does a splendid job of enticing you into its wonderfully crafted world of the Shi empire with adventure and magic brimming at the turn of each page. 

Straight of the bat I really do have to praise Tan for the worldbuilding it definitely is the forefront best aspect of the story. From the beautiful poetic descriptions to the elemental magic system, you can’t help but be roped into the intricacy and wonder of East Asian influence. 

Tan uses the dual POV narrative of Ahn and Altan to not only tell the story that is Jade Fire Gold but also to share her own intimate experiences of her Chinese heritage. That is why I love and will always champion for BIPOC stories. It takes a great deal of courage to put for many authors of colour to put their authentic lived experiences into their work knowing the very real repercussions it may have for them. But that authenticity is activism in itself. Which Tan does with such grace it’s truly admirable. 

As mentioned Jade Fire Gold is told through the perspectives of Ahn and Altan. Throughout the novel, it’s a delight to see how the two of them develop throughout the story. Ahn and Altan are fleshed out enough to keep you engaged in the story. Along with the cast of side characters - everyone character has a distinctive voice that follows in the story. 

With the fantastical magic, tension, royal and political intrigue it’s hard not to love what this story has to offer. With Tan easy-going writing style Jade Fire Gold is definitely a book not only great for seasoned YA readers but for those who want to dabble into the YA fantasy sphere for the first time as well.

Now, of course, the romance - when I say SLOW BURN I mean it for real. So if you slow-burn lover Ahn and Altan romance will be right up your alley. Their story was quite endearing to see develop especially with both having to explore what it means to forgive and heal before opening yourself to be receptive to love. Oh and my girls Chen Linxi and Tang Wei. They were mad adorable I only wish in the book we got to explore more their relationship. The LGBT+ rep (flf and mlm) is done effortlessly - the queernorm of the story is nice because its just part and parcel of the world and accepted. 

My only little qualm maybe is the pacing. It definitely felt it fluctuated from time to time. The first ⅗  of the book was absolutely fine. But by the last two ⅖ the pacing felt a tiny bit rushed. But you know what I can tell that slide because overall the story was way too enjoyable. 

Overall, Jade Fire Gold is an amazing book that can’t go unnoticed. With a mesmerising world full of divided loyalties, light vs dark, and much more (find out when you read the book) 
for Tan to produce a beautiful debut novel I can wait to see what she has next to share. For real is there going to be a book 2 because the ending let me in shock. I need answers June, please

Jade Fire Gold is one of those reads that stick with you because the adventure of the story comes to life in front of your  very own eyes. 

Star Rating: 4.75/5

Thank you so much Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an e-arc of Jade Fire Gold in exchange for an honest review. 

All the thoughts and opinions above are my own

Please view the trigger warnings on the author’s website prior to reading
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I had low expectations and this book doesn't even live up to those. It had great potential but it wasn't carried out as well as it could have been and hearing it to be the favourite book of many people was very surprising to me.
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dnf-ing at 20% (I tried to go on but it really wasn't working for me)

I did not give a rating on Goodreads cause that wouldn't be fair but from the little bit I read: 
- the info-dumping is done in a really lazy manner, it really took me out as a reader as the dialogue was so unnatural and blatant. I'm not kidding, it felt like that one chapter could have been delivered in a whole prequel, just a back-to-back history lesson and magic lesson packed into one conversation. that was my main problem that led to a dnf. 

(a little disappointing cause it's not every day I see a Chinese Singaporean get traditionally published in the West with a Chinese-inspired tale.)
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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This does not affect my review.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed in this book. The synopsis sounded excellent, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. 

I’m going to preface this by saying that some of my issues are definitely a personal preference. This is a YA book written in first person and both are hard sells for me. If that sounds like your thing, you might enjoy this more, but sadly, the odds were already stacked against this book for me. (It also didn’t help that the formatting on the eARC was terrible, and I had to read on my phone, but I tried not to let that affect my opinion)

First, things I did like – because there were several. The writing was beautiful. There were some truly standout lines here – particularly within the imagery. Tan has talent and I wouldn’t dismiss another of her books because of this one. Likewise, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and magic system: effort had clearly gone into crafting these. I enjoyed the Chinese-inspired setting and the use of the mythology. 

The secondary characters were a delight. Tang Wei in particular. I loved her. She was wonderful and I would willingly read a whole book about her and Linxi, with a side of Leiye and Tai Shun. The side characters were all so distinct and interesting and I loved each and every one.

Unfortunately, what really let the book down for me was the main characters. I wasn’t particularly enamoured of either. Ahn grew on me towards the end – she had her fun, fiery moments, and had all the potential to be a really interesting character if she hadn’t been held back by Altan. 

Altan bored me. I can’t put my finger on why, in particular, he just seemed to be the standard broody male love interest and I’ve read better? I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Ahn at all, so it was a little difficult to really get into the romance between them. (Another hard sell for me – I prefer f/f or m/m over m/f)

Honestly, Ahn had more chemistry with Tang Wei. I was dying for her to ditch Altan and head off for a polyamorous relationship with her and Linxi. 

I think part of the fault was that this felt like it should have been part of a series – I’d have loved more of the secondary characters and I might have liked Altan more if I’d seen him develop over a longer period. 

In all, I would read more from this author, but not necessarily in this world.
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thank you to the publishers for the chance to read and review this book. 
this book has my heart. the world is described beautifully and i can not get the characters out of my mind. i loved watching the bond form between Anh and Altan, and although i could guess some character development that was going it happen, it was written so well that it still kept me hooked. the plot itself was refreshing after reading so many fantasy books, following this journey with the characters felt like something new and something that i felt a part of. i found it hard to get into the book at the beginning but that isn't necessarily the books fault, however once the stakes got higher and the tension rose oh boyyyyyy was i hooked. i'm so sad that it's over but it is definitely a book i will remember!
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Right from that gorgeous synopsis, I knew Tan had me in the palm of her hand. Every single part of that description is right up my street. Luckily for me, I think Jade Fire Gold lived up to the hype for me. 

From the first page, you are thrust into the thick stench of betrayal and an enclosing atmosphere. You can feel the terror running through the characters and just like that, you are completely gripped and unable to escape Tan’s clutches. Tan is relentless in the fast pacing of this book, as we race from place to place and the tension builds as we learn the true motivations behind every action. At the same time, Tan always allows room for characters to breathe and readers to get more of an insight into their minds. Those are treacherous places however to tread, with plenty of betrayal and dark secrets being held by various people. I loved the way the political machinations and schemes played out, with the stakes only ever getting more intense and life-threatening. 

This is a gorgeously rich fantasy packed full of twists and turns that blends historical and magical fiction in a way that captures your mind. Tan’s writing style is so descriptive and vivid that you cannot help but imagine every page coming to life before you. There’s glimpses of beauty amongst the sheer hardship and brutality of life in this realm. Those flashes of brilliance are exquisite to see and this is such a strong debut story. I felt completely wrapped up in Tan’s imagination and want more. Speaking of which, that ending left my mouth hanging open and needing to know what happens beyond that tantalising final page. 

Jade Fire Gold is a stunning addition to YA fantasy shelves that combines beauty with brutality in a dance of revenge, family and destiny.
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Sadly I had to DNF this book because the format was downloaded weirdly and it was missing blocks of text and instead had random weird pictures. So I am having to wait to get the actual book. What I did read so far was really interesting so I am excited to read it in the correct format soon!
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[An eARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

CN: self-harm (gouging, eye horror; non-graphic), child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting), parent death (implied, off-page), character deaths, mentions and descriptions of fantasy/magical violence (blood, war, political violence), mentions and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia, alcohol consumption, grief, blood

What I liked about this book:

- fascinating magic system
- amazing world-building (inspired by Chinese mythology)
- beautiful slow-burn romance
- sapphic and achillean side characters
- dual POV with two really interesting main characters
- fast paced plot with a lot of action
- beautiful writing style
- shocking plot twists

I highly recommend this book to all fans of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Avatar: The Last Airbender!
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the pitch is stunning, atla being one of my favourite shows, i was excited to see 'what if katara were the dark avatar & zuko was hunting her down in an empire on the brink of war?’ but the execution is done poorly.

—it starts off really well, i liked the character motivations introduced initially and the easy pacing in the first 1/3 or half of the book
—the writing is fairly simple to follow and the worldbuilding inspired by chinese myth/folklore is imbedded pretty well. the descriptions of the different settings and locations were spot on
—i love the side characters, tang wei, tai shun, leiye, and the relationships they have between themselves and the protagonists.

—then the pacing starts to stumble and i lose interest in both ahn and altan because their thoughts seem to feel repetitive and i couldn't care less. i wouldn't have minded if the book went on a little longer if it meant giving a satisfying climax to the buildup rather than finishing it all off in a couple chapters. is it a standalone? or a series? especially with the ending, i'm confused here.
—the so called romance felt very bland, no tension no angst of supposedly being "enemies" so yeah
—i also didn't feel the urgency of a country being at war with others?? the political intrigue was just dumped and not handled with depth

overall, jade fire gold can be an interesting and enjoyable debut ya fantasy, if you're looking for a simple one but its simply not for me.
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Oh man, I really wanted to fall in love with this book!
I mean, have you seen that gorgeous cover and that awesome blurb?
I did love the setting, world, and magic system and I was intrigued by most of the characters, but
unfortunately, I also had some issues with this book.

First of all, the pacing is off. Due to this book being divided in what appears to be four parts, there are some major time jumps, which made me feel like we were missing parts of the story and the connection between Ahn and Altan. And the events we do experience seem unimportant and suffer from slow pacing.

I felt like I couldn't connect to the main characters due to the constant POV switching and time jumps. I really wanted to ship them, but I must have missed them bonding or something, because one moment they felt nothing and the next they suddenly had feelings. They also suffered from a major lack of communication.

That's not to say this book was all bad. I was definitely invested in the story and wanted to see how things would end. The ending was satisfactory and after that epilogue I really want there to be a sequel!
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