She’s the emperor’s deadliest assassin…
…who’s in love with her clan sister.
With a brewing insurrection threatening the realm, Jie must choose between love and duty.
Because when faced with a nascent rebellion, your decisions could save an empire.
Or topple it.
Book Content Warnings – sex work (portrayed in a positive light), violence, gore, magically coerced sex (rape).
*I received a copy of this book from the author and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. This does not affect my review in any way.
A story of duty, love and betrayal set in perhaps what one could call the underbelly of a kingdom, Thorn of the Night Blossoms is where good and bad are blurred. Jie, our protagonist, is a half-elf who’s both a courtesan and a fighter (Is she a spy, a protector, or an assassin? She’s all that and more!). She’s the kind of BAMF female main character we need more of in the literary world—full of faults but also strong, fearless, and most importantly: gray. All these qualities make Jie a very compelling character, but I think there should’ve been more on her (ie: her past, her heritage, her opinions and thoughts, etc), especially since this is the first book of the series.
Now, I’m not sure if Jie has previously appeared in any of the author’s other works outside of this series. However, as aforementioned, this is the first book of a series and as an introduction of sorts to Jie and her world, it would be very helpful had there been more on what makes Jie the person she is. This would’ve made her a more complex character and through that, the world she lives in can also be expanded and made more solid since we are experiencing the story through her point of view.
Also, I think it’d be helpful had there been more elaboration on certain aspects like how the kingdom functions, what the allusions used in the Floating World mean, and who the Black Lotus Clan are. It was difficult to get into the story at the beginning due to the many allusions used. This isn’t a bad thing (the allusions are rather clever and I always enjoy good ones), but it wasn’t easy associating them with their intended meanings despite how obvious they are once you realize it. It took me the entirely of the first chapter before I could get a good enough grasp and start enjoying the story.
The way the plot is executed will certainly draw you in, though the plot isn’t really anything new. The action scenes were written brilliantly and I was inching closer to the edge of my seat as the story progressed. I even cried at one point because it was just that emotional. Moreover, how sex work is portrayed here is also much appreciated. Instead of the usual narrative of how it’s taboo and demeaning, etc., we see that there is irony and power for both sides of the coin. Other than that, the antagonist was unexpected and I loved that dearly. How human they turned out to be was even better!
All in all, Thorn of the Night Blossoms is a very quick and enjoyable read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the other books and read more on this world and Jie.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JC Kang’s unhealthy obsession with Fantasy and Sci-Fi began at an early age when his brother introduced him to The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, and Star Wars. As an adult, he combines his geek roots with his professional experiences as a Chinese Medicine doctor, martial arts instructor, and technical writer to pen epic fantasy stories.