cover image To Gaze upon Wicked Gods

To Gaze upon Wicked Gods

Molly X. Chang. Del Rey, $28.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-72224-4

Chang’s heavy handed debut and series launch chronicles a power struggle on a conquered world. Before Yang Ruying was born, the magical world of Pangu was invaded by a foreign power, Rome, which emerged from a portal in the sky and conquered Pangu’s people in a single day. Their dwindling magical powers were no match for the Romans’ high-tech weaponry. Ruying’s magic, however, is strong, a fact she tries to hide from the colonizers. When Roman prince Antony Augustus discovers Ruying’s deadly gift, he offers safety for her and her family in exchange for becoming his personal assassin. Ruying accepts after Antony convinces her that his plan to rule both their worlds will bring a better life for her people. But can he be trusted? The worldbuilding is delivered through clunky info dumps and repetitive proselytizing about the plight of Ruyung’s people, drowning out nuance. The plot feels largely like setup for future installments, especially as the mild cliff-hanger ending leaves few questions answered. This one is a tough sell. Agent: Kari Sutherland, KT Literary. (Apr.)