Nghi Vo is a new writer to me, apparently an award-winning author. I am not sure what constitutes worthiness of awards these days, but it would seem wandering plot, predictable characters, and seedy settings are the criteria.
I delved into Vo’s novel, intrigued by the premise, and reassured by the fact this wasn’t some indie erotica which proliferates publishing these days. I was rather misguided.
The novel deals with the tired old trope of Hollywood predation, spicing it up with an alternate world of fey creatures both glorious and foul. The protagonist, Luli Wei, who has usurped her sister’s name, is a predator in her own right, consuming whatever is required to gain her ambition of stardom. She wanders the Hollywood production lots at night where a cast of demi-human and human stars and groupies gather around fires, each fire its own constellation, and each with its own orgy, or salon, or drug indulgence. The Wild Hunt wanders the lots. People submit to S&M, bondage, possession and anything Vo could throw into this hodgepodge of a novel. And beyond that, there is little other plot structure.
The very pragmatic side of me kept wondering how the asphalt wasn’t melted into tar, even set alight, from all these nightly fires, how it was fire departments weren’t called in because of the myriad flames and smoke. And there’s the unrealistic glamour and glitter, and indulgence which precludes any consideration of income and expense, and real world practicalities. This is nothing more than adolescent voyeurism and nightdreams. If Lestat had shown up I would not have been at all surprised. But apparently Tor thought it was a good novel.
If you like consumable, irrelevant, erotic fiction, you’ll likely love this novel. For me, I prefer a little more skill, elegance, and believability.