Chinese American actress in Old Hollywood

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Siren Queen is about a young Chinese-American woman who dreams of being a movie star in early Hollywood. We get a glimpse of how the studios are run and how the actors who are contracted, (essentially owned by the studios), and living in dorms. Our main character, Luli Wei, (a fake name borrowed from her own sister’s actual name), leaves her family’s laundry business to become a star. We follow her career from small background acting roles to a multi-movie role as the monster in a siren movie. We see her life off-screen, the connections she makes, the discreet relationships she has with women, and how the actors are treated but the higher-ups in the studios.

I love reading about old Hollywood, and I also loved Nghi Vo’s writing style. I think there are a lot of similar books out there, but Nghi Vo’s writing and the main character being of Chinese descent makes this book stand out amongst others like it. I also really appreciated how dark the story was, rather than making Hollywood shimmer. The secondary characters also shine in this book, from Luli’s roommate, Greta; to Luli’s love interest, Emmelin; to the male hero in the siren movies. I didn’t think this was a perfect book for me, but I did enjoy my time reading it and would recommend it to others who like to read about old hollywood.

One thing that went completely over my head was that this book is categorized as fantasy. Our young actresses go to a psychic type character, who helps them with their career, possibly with magic. I didn't take this a literal magic, which I think was a benefit for my enjoyment of this book.