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Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong cover shows a heart (the organ) made of gold, and flowers and leaves behind it.

Review: Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong cover shows a heart (the organ) made of gold, and flowers and leaves behind it.

Foul Heart Huntsman (Foul Lady Fortune #2)
Chloe Gong
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published September 29, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Foul Heart Huntsman

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends comes the second book in the captivating Foul Lady Fortune duology following an immortal assassin in 1930s Shanghai as she races to save her country and her love.

Winter is drawing thick in 1932 Shanghai, as is the ever-nearing threat of a Japanese invasion.

Rosalind Lang has suffered the worst possible fate for a national spy: she’s been exposed. With the media storm camped outside her apartment for the infamous Lady Fortune, she’s barely left her bedroom in weeks, plotting her next course of action after Orion was taken and his memories of Rosalind wiped. Though their marriage might have been a sham, his absence hurts her more than any physical wound. She won’t rest until she gets him back.

But with her identity in the open, the task is near impossible. The only way to leave the city and rescue Orion is under the guise of a national tour. It’s easy to convince her superiors that the countryside needs unity more than ever, and who better than an immortal girl to stir pride and strength into the people?

When the tour goes wrong, however, everything Rosalind once knew is thrown up in the air. Taking refuge outside Shanghai, old ghosts come into the open and adversaries turn to allies. To save Orion, they must find a cure to his mother’s traitorous invention and take this dangerous chemical weapon away from impending foreign invasion—but the clock is ticking, and if Rosalind fails, it’s not only Orion she loses, but her nation itself.

My Review

The first book in the duology ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Orion in danger, and Rosalind finally aware of her feelings for him, so I was really excited to get to read the rest of the story. Though my review of FOUL LADY FORTUNE won’t post for a while, (My calendar is so packed that I don’t have much room for backlist reviews.) I actually finished reading it a few days before beginning FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN, so the story is pretty fresh in my mind. Which is great because so much happens in that book!

First, if you haven’t read FOUL LADY FORTUNE, you’ll want to do that before starting this book. In fact, if you haven’t read THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and want to read that duology without spoilers, you’ll want to do that before reading either of the books in this newer duology. You can definitely read FOUL LADY FORTUNE without reading THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, as I did, but there will be some spoilers.

I think I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one, even though it doesn’t stand on its own. It was nice to pick up already knowing the characters and their relationships with one another and see those relationships play out. I also enjoyed the high-stakes, captive-swapping team efforts to save the day and all the ways they went sideways. Some moments were satisfying because I saw them coming. Others came as a complete shock.

All in all, I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I read it pretty quickly, despite it being over 500 pages. As with the first book in the duology, this is really adult fiction marketed as YA. My guess is that that’s because of the speculative elements.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Most characters are Chinese. Alisa and her brother are Russian. Orion has had romantic relationships with both boys and girls. Celia is transgender.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to a boy’s past romantic relationship with another boy.

Spiritual Content
One character repeats a spiritual mantra in an intense moment.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Battle scenes show soldiers and other operatives attacking one another. References to torture.

Drug Content
A scientist uses chemical agents to manipulate and control prisoners.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
Disney Hyperion

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Kyra’s survival on the streets of Forge stands on a knife’s edge. She’s constantly scraping for the coin to make ends meet. A talented thief-for-hire, she often works for dangerous clients. When one such client offers her a job too good to be true, Kyra’s tempted by his ability to protect her and by the pull of attraction she feels for him. But James quickly proves to be more than he claims, and Kyra finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the web of the Assassins Guild, and there may not be a way out alive.

Tristam serves as a Palace knight, defending against fearsome Demon Riders, warriors with giant cats who terrorize the people. When important documents begin inexplicably disappearing from the Palace, Tristam uncovers the identity of a thief who may be the best chance at bringing down the Assassins Guild. If he can convince her to betray them.

I’ve been curious about this book since before it came out. I started trying to read it once before, and just didn’t get hooked enough to continue. I must have been really tired or something, because this time when I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. Kyra’s character captured me from the first page. She’s too smart for her own good, with a soft heart and a deep loyalty to her friends. Loved her. I loved her best friend, Flick. I really wanted him or James to be the big romantic interest, but it was clear (because he has his own point-of-view) that Tristam was going to be the hero. He grew on me. At first he was too clean and neat and predictable.

The plot moved really quickly and I kept turning pages to see what would happen next. There were several revelations that I didn’t see coming. The resolution was satisfying but also left me eager to pick up the sequel. I liked that there were moments that turned my perceptions of characters and situation on their heads. I feel like that’s a pretty true-to-life experience (things not being what they initially seem), so I’m always interested when I find that in literature.

Would I pick up the second book in the series? Yes. I’m curious what happens next to Kyra, Tristam and their friends, but I’m not so desperate that I have to read it right now. I think it was a good book definitely worth reading. I think especially fans of Robin McKinley will enjoy this story.

Language Content

Sexual Content
There are a few hints that some women live as mistresses to knights or powerful men, and that perhaps that life comes with high costs. Tristam’s superior asks if he intends to take a mistress, but he says he will not.

Spiritual Content

Kyra joins a guild of assassins whose assignment grow steadily more brutal. She doesn’t want to kill anyone, but an accident wakens a hunger for violence in her that plagues her nightmares. She dreams about killing, choosing to kill. The scenes are brief but a bit disturbing. The barbarians who invade her city are fierce warriors who kill mercilessly. Giant cats kill and devour villagers or soldiers in a couple of brief scenes. There are some gory or intense descriptions.

Drug Content
Kyra learns about the use of poisons from her time in the Assassins Guild.