Saturday 22 June 2024

Book Review: Daughter of Calamity by Rosalie M. Lin (Fantasy)

Daughter of Calamity
Rosalie M. Lin
Tor UK
25 June 2024
ARC via Publisher

In Shanghai, danger wears many faces . . .

Jingwen spends her nights as a showgirl at the Paramount, one of the most lavish clubs in Shanghai, competing ruthlessly to charm wealthy patrons. To cap off her shifts, she runs money for her grandmother, the exclusive surgeon to the most powerful gang in the city. A position her grandmother is pressuring her to inherit . . .When a series of cabaret dancers are targeted—the attacker stealing their faces—Jingwen fears she could be next. And as the faces of the dancers start appearing on wealthy foreign socialites, she realizes Shanghai's glittering mirage of carefree luxury comes at a terrible price. Fighting not just for her own safety but that of the other dancers—women who have simultaneously been her bitterest rivals and only friends—Jingwen has no choice but to delve into the city's underworld. In this treacherous realm of tangled alliances and ancient grudges, silver-armed gangsters haunt every alley, foreign playboys broker deals in exclusive back rooms, and the power of gods is wielded and traded like yuan. Jingwen will have to become something far stranger and more dangerous than her grandmother ever imagined if she hopes to survive the forces waiting to sell Shanghai's bones.


Daughter of Calamity was a book with a fascinating premise that had plenty of potential, but it didn't quite deliver in the execution. Jingwen was the only character who was really fleshed out, but even she was a little contradictory in her actions at times, seemingly unaffected by most of the drama playing out around her. I would have liked to have seen more reaction from her and also a bit more emotional depth given to the supporting cast, none of whom really stood out as distinct figures. The world building, too, was a bit haphazard and a little more explanation of the magic and how it worked would have assisted in painting a picture of the world and events of the story. This is a debut work by the author, though, and I do think the idea behind the story was interesting, so I'd love to see her return with a new piece in the future, to see how her writing can develop. With a bit more work on some aspects, this could have been a winning piece. As it is at present, I would give it 3 stars. Worth a read for fantasy fans looking for a story in a unique setting.

I received this book as a free ARC via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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