Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn't care. She'd rather play a monster than a maid. But in Luli's world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her.
Vo’s spellbinding prose captures the allure and discomfort that Hollywood holds for outspoken, witty Luli ... Beyond its intricate world building and incisive cultural commentary, Siren Queen is a moving exploration of romance, loss and complex family dynamics. Readers will be fully invested in Luli’s journey as she comes into her own, defies the industry’s attempts to own her and pursues her happiness.
... take history and imbue it with elaborate yet grounded fantasy that feels at once shocking and intimate. No matter how strange or frightening, it still feels real in that curiously contradictory way only speculative fiction can manage ... Vo delicately threads that needle, managing to make the reader sympathize with Luli without sugarcoating or simplifying her ... Nghi Vo is the kind of writer who starts off remarkable yet somehow gets better and better with each book. Her short speculative fiction made her mark on fiction, her novellas demonstrated her sheer talent, and her novels have taken alternate history to new heights. Siren Queen is the best thing she’s written thus far.
... darkly enchanting ... Nghi Vo reimagines a recognizable time in American history by weaving magic into its roots to create a world in Siren Queen that is both familiar and enchanted. Her heroine is bold and brave, exploring first loves and self-identity while balancing her own ambition with the demands of her deadly employers. Vo packs the novel with themes of racism, queer identity, immigrant experience and the freedom to define one's own life and relationships, while maintaining a richly cultivated and dreamlike world. With lush imagery and a gorgeously rendered atmosphere worthy of its complex heroine, Siren Queen is magical realism at its most beautiful and intoxicating.