Both Enchanting and Frightening

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I loved everything about this book--the magic system was fantastic and threatening, the characters were all believable and interesting, and I was hooked every step of the way!

In particular, I found the way magic was just a part of life in Siren Queen to be so interesting, notably how, while magic can be good, it is very often wild, dangerous, and unpredictable. It's something that impacts every part of the world but might very well be the end of the up-and-coming actresses in a way that's both mundane and terrible. I was so enraptured by the little doll-girls that are made to replace Luli and her sister, as well as the later scene where Luli meets yet another double, created by the studio to replace her when she causes trouble. Both scenes are so chilling and uncanny and beautifully written. I'm a huge fan of darker fairy magic in general, so I loved the incorporation of the wild hunt (and appreciated that Oberlin is basically as close as you can get to Oberon without literally being Oberon). The dark underbelly of the magic made the stakes feel really concrete and high, and every new detail we learned about it was just thrilling.

I also really liked all of the relationships in this book and felt like they were very well-written! Luli's love for both Emmaline and Tara, different as they are, felt very natural, and it was absolutely wonderful to read a butch character like Tara, especially one seen as likable and attractive. At the same time, Luli's friendships with Greta and Harry were equally compelling and important to her character, not to mention that her troubled relationship with her sister is so realistically complicated and fraught. And each of these characters felt like they had a genuine depth behind them, like they would really keep going after leaving Luli's perspective, living their own lives with their own dreams and ambitions.

I also thought the tone and style of the book fit very well, both direct and extremely evocative of this rich, fantastical imagery, fitting Luli's character well. It makes this world feel both so similar to ours but also very compellingly captures the magical and uncanny parts of it.

I do wish we'd seen a bit more of Luli's life after achieving stardom, however. It felt like the ending of the book wrapped up really pretty quickly, and while we got a glimpse of everyone's futures there and in the little asides throughout, I really would've liked to see just a bit more of her success after we spent so much time rooting for her and watching her claw her way out of danger again and again. That being said, I absolutely loved the concept of how the digital age and its eternity deified these older stars, and especially how then future generations of queer women all looked back on Luli with recognition and fondness :'^). I also really appreciated how the work handles her Chinese-American identity and the prejudice she's faces directly; it's very significant and of course shapes her whole career, but it's also just like, part of her life and something that allows her to find solidarity with those around her.

Overall I think this work is one of my new favorites! It was just so compelling, and I was so invested in Luli's journey, enraptured by the danger all around her, and drawn into all her relationships and struggles. And, of course, it was fun to read such a clear love-letter to film and older movies that also explores the dangers of Hollywood in an incredible, fantastical way.