Review: Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

When I tell you I SQUEALED when this book dropped through my letterbox, please know it was so loud my husband thought something was wrong.


I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Chloe Gong’s debut work These Violent Delights back in 2020 and I haven’t known peace since. In the duology, Gong recreates 1920’s Shanghai with such vivid lyricism you can almost feel the streets of the city around you. Thankfully, this is no different. I’m reminded of when people describe the city of New York as a character in Sex and the City, Shanghai is undeniably its own character in Gong’s works.

This book is a glittering spy thriller, with elements of speculative fantasy, and on the surface that’s not my usual cup of bookish tea. But Chloe’s incredible devotion to research and prose means that honestly if she published a grocery list I’d read it. Add in the fact that this book features some of my favourite characters from her early books, and one of my favourite tropes (they’re SPIES and they HATE EACH OTHER but they have to pretend to be MARRIED *swoon*), it was a must read for me.

Despite this book focusing on characters from the TVD duology (Rosalind Yang and Alisa Montagova) it’s not imperative to have read These Violent Delights before embarking on Foul Lady Fortune. But obviously, I’m going to tell you you should read it all. I loved seeing the expansion of these characters I grew to love in TVD, and as always, Gong writes witty banter & emotive characters oh so well.

I can’t say I knew much about the Nationalist era of China’s history, but I found the spy and warfare aspects of this book fascinating, there’s clearly so much research gone into this book, and it makes for a complex and thrilling premise to the story. I don’t know if I’m just smarter now (ha) but I also felt like I had a better grasp on the politics in FLF vs TVD!

The narrative itself is fast paced and well developed, with several POVs to keep things moving along. The book features several plot twists, some I guessed and some that shook me to my core, but all that were MASTERPIECES. It’s a whirlwind read despite its 500 pages, and once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.
I especially loved the romance between Rosalind and Orion. I loved seeing a main character on the Ace spectrum be written with sensitivity and nuance, it is a slow burn that makes sense, that you root for.


But mostly, FAKE MARRIAGE TROPE GUYS.

A must read, out September 27th.

★★★★★

Thanks to the publishers for an advanced copy of this book.