The following review may contain spoilers for all previous books in the Secret Shanghai series by Chloe Gong (THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, OUR VIOLENT ENDS, FOUL LADY FORTUNE, LAST VIOLENT CALL). Continue reading at your own discretion.
For national spy Rosalind Lang, the worst possible scenario has happened: her identity has been exposed. To make matters worse, her partner (and fake husband and possibly something more?) has been brainwashed, all his memories of her erased, and stolen away as a weapon for the other side. Trapped in her bedroom for weeks as the media clamors outside for a look at the illusive Lady Fortune, all Rosalind can do is think about what she can do to get Orion back…because even though their marriage was fake, her heart is in shambles in his absence and she will not stop until they are reunited.
Under the guise of a national tour to strengthen the resolve of the people in the wake of an impending Japanese invasion, Rosalind will be able to leave the city and draw out Orion’s treacherous mother - and hopefully a brainwashed Orion himself. But everything goes wrong and Rosalind finds herself having to hide just outside of Shanghai with some familiar faces - old ghosts that she needs to make amends with and old adversaries turned allies. The clock is ticking and failure is not an option because it’s not just Orion on the line - it’s the entire nation.
Despite the bloodshed and violence, Chloe’s Secret Shanghai series has been a source of comfort to me ever since the first time I read THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS. Going into this book knowing that it was to be the end of the stories set in this world was a bit bittersweet. But returning to this world also felt like coming home and visiting with old friends. I was immediately thrown back into 1930s Shanghai, ready to follow Rosalind and company to the ends of the earth.
Full of surprises and Chloe’s signature angst and heartbreak, this story tugs at all the emotion that has been built up over the course of three books and two novellas. Even though Rosalind feels like things are moving at a snail’s pace in her journey to find Orion, I felt like I was being propelled forward, constantly on the edge of my seat. And even when goals are being met, new obstacles pop up that not only create more action, but more tension between the characters that kept me glued to the book and ignoring everything else around me.
Full to the brim with the rich history of China, this story is a beautiful send off to this world and these characters. The way that Chloe is able to utilize actual historical events to guide the story is masterful, leading into a wonderful “happy for now” for the characters and relationships I have come to love as dearly as the people in my life. Though she takes her time, Chloe does her best to feed the shippers and the payoff of all the pining and yearning and banter is well worth the wait.
FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN by the queen of my bookshelf Chloe Gong is available now and you can pick up a regular copy here, an exclusive edition from Barnes & Noble or Waterstones, or a signed and personalized copy from Astoria Bookshop.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will also be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books without whom this review would not be possible! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."