Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong (Secret Shanghai Universe #3)

It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.

Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption for her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.

Code name: Fortune.

But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.

To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.

TITLE: Foul Lady Fortune
AUTHOR: Chloe Gong
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McEldery Books
YEAR: 2022
LENGTH: 528 pages
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical

I loved every minute of FOUL LADY FORTUNE. The narration is a perfect blend of banter and introspection, with each character deep in their own plans and intrigues, punctuated by moments of tension and violence as death stalks Shanghai.

The worldbuilding is a mix of new details and brief references to relevant events in the earlier duology. There’s just enough detail to provide some updates on characters from THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and OUR VIOLENT ENDS who don’t appear in FOUL LADY FORTUNE, without spoiling too many events from before. There are enough characters for the cast to feel full, but the focus stays on each narrator long enough to be immersive in their perspective before showing a different set of events. Rosalind and Orion's relationship in particular looks very different from each of their viewpoints, with Orion bemusedly accepting how hard he's fallen for Rosalind (without even knowing her name isn't Janie). 

The resolution of the mystery creates a satisfying end point to the novel while also setting up what promises to be a fascinating sequel. I'm very excited to read what comes next.

*Updating with the sequel check now that this has been recharacterized as the third book in a series rather than the first in a duology.

As the third book in a series, FOUL LADY FORTUNE builds on events in the first two books by following Rosalind Lang after her earlier intrigues and betrayal. She is functionally immortal and generally impervious, physically stuck at nineteen, even as the rest of the world moves on. She's been using her talents as an assassin, but now is ordered to team up with Orion on a spy mission, all while pretending to be someone else who's pretending to be someone else, none of whom are herself, Rosalind Lang. It wraps up some things left hanging, with details about what happened to some characters from the first two books, as well as specifically showing what Rosalind, Alisa, and Celia are up to. There's a new storyline which can mostly stand alone (so much that this was originally listed as the first book in a duology), related to a series of attacks in the city, and the spy mission for Rosalind and Orion. There are several major things introduced, but generally there's more information about them without completely resolving them (as the next book is expected to do so). This isn't the last book and it ends with some very specific things left for later. 

Enough of the story might make sense on its own for someone to have a good reading experience if they start here without having read THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS nor OUR VIOLENT ENDS, but the experience will be more meaningful if this is treated as the third book in a series.

Graphic/Explicit CW for blood, violence, murder, death.

Moderate CW for xenophobia, confinement, gun violence, injury detail, medical content.

Minor CW for sexual content, sexual harassment, transphobia, infidelity, torture, colonization.

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