Phoenix Extravagant

Yoon Ha Lee. Solaris, $24.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-78108-794-7
Lee (Hexarchate Stories) sets an arresting tale of loyalty, identity, and the power of art in a skillfully rendered fantasy world inspired by the Japanese occupation of Korea. The Empire of Razan conquered Hwaguk six years earlier, transforming it into Administrative Territory Fourteen. When Gyen Jebi, a nonbinary struggling artist, registers for a Razanei name to enhance their job prospects, their sister, Bongsunga, calls Jebi a traitor to their Hwagugin heritage and cuts off the financial support she had been providing. Jebi is left in no position to turn down a job offer from the Razan government’s defense sector, especially not when the recruiter threatens to arrest Bongsunga for her revolutionary ties should Jebi refuse. Jebi’s task is to destroy classic Hwagugin artworks, reducing them to a powder with magical properties that can be used as a pigment to paint codes onto automatons of war and program their behaviors. When Jebi secretly teaches the mechanical dragon they’re working on to speak, Jebi learns the devastating truth behind a recent massacre. But will Jebi be able to save their people and regain their sister’s trust? Readers need not be history buffs to appreciate Lee’s rich worldbuilding, but those with knowledge of Korean history will find the nuance and detail especially rewarding. Lee’s masterful storytelling is sure to wow. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/30/2020
Release date: 10/20/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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