A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Words and phrases in Shanghainese using pinyin and French, some with context clues, may inspire readers look them up. The setting gives readers a sense of the political and social atmosphere in Shanghai in the early 1930s, when Communist and Nationalist factions are at war, and Japan has invaded Manchuria and is threatening to continue south.
People aren't perfect; we all have flaws, so all we can do is try our best. Don't take the whole burden on yourself when you don't succeed. No one can save the whole world, but you can try making it better one thing at a time.
Positive Role Models
The main characters are assassins and spies, but with relatively good motives. Rosalind is trying to atone for past mistakes, and other characters are fighting for causes they believe in. Of course they're all keeping secrets from one another, but despite that they model courage, perseverance, and teamwork.
Characters represent a diverse group, mostly from mainland China, Japan, Russia, and a few European countries. Being attracted to both sexes is casually referred to several times. An important character is transgender.
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Violence & Scariness
The main plot involves a series of murders by injecting an unknown chemical serum into victims. Other murders briefly described include slitting a throat, gunshots, and poisoning. Fighting hand to hand and using knives and guns is described with mild gore like descriptions of blood and sounds of bones crunching. Descriptions of pain. Characters in danger from explosions, fire, and fear of capture and torture.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses, some romantic tension.
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"S--t," "asshole," "damn," "hell," "Jesus," "merde," (French for "s--t") and "putaine de merde" (roughly, "holy s--t").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Injecting unknown or poorly understood chemical concoctions cause death or alter victims physically. Older teens drink occasionally in bars or at parties. One character smoked in the past. No important characters smoke, but accurate to the times people in the background smoking and the smell of smoke are mentioned a few times.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Foul Lady Fortune combines elements of spy thrillers, historical fiction, and fantasy in a story about a pair of older-teen spies who are sent undercover as a married couple to solve a series of murders in 1930s Shanghai. Most of the main characters also appeared in the author's These Violent Delights duology, although this isn't exactly a sequel. The main plot involves a series of murders by injecting an unknown chemical serum into victims. Other murders briefly described include slitting a throat, gunshots, and poisoning. Fighting hand to hand and using knives and guns is described with mild gore like descriptions of blood, sounds of bones crunching, and pain. Characters in danger from explosions, fire, and fear of capture and torture. Strong language includes "s--t," "asshole," "damn," and a couple of French words for "s--t." There's romantic tension and a couple of kisses. Older teens drink a few times, mostly socially, and there are a few references to historically accurate tobacco smoking, although none of the main characters smoke.
Is It Any Good?
This is a gripping and tense spy thriller that skillfully blends in elements of historical fiction and superpower fantasy. Foul Lady Fortune picks up with characters from author Chloe Gong's These Violent Delights duology, although it's now four years later. It's not quite a sequel, but reading the other two books first will deepen your understanding of what some of the characters are grappling with. It's loosely based on Shakespeare's As You Like It, and may encourage viewers to read it or watch an adaptation.
Excitement and intrigue share the pages with sweeping and epic changes in the politics and society of Shanghai in the early 1930s. Teens will relate to Rosalind and Orion as they try to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their secrets while uncovering the truth behind the crimes. They'll also enjoy the fake couple's love-hate dynamics and witty dialogue. The first of two planned volumes, the story does not end here and will have fans eager for the next one.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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