Marvelous allegorical take on power and desire

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Following the main character, Luli, as she stumbles upon a dream of immortality, of becoming a star to shine forever more over the Hollywood skyline, her perseverance and passion brings her desires to life. Told through her own memories she takes the reader through her rise in the film industry and her tumultuous and often secretive relationships along the way.

This book was all sorts of fantastic! Blending classic fantasy elements with a historical fiction memoir-style tale, Nghi Vo takes the setting of old Hollywood and weaves a beautifully horrid fairytale filled with larger than life “creatures” lurking around every corner. This behind-the-curtain tale mixes mythological elements of demonic figures, huldra, the Wild Hunt and blood magic with the very real misogyny, abuse, homophobia and racism that ran through the core of the entertainment industry of the past and continues to persist in society to this day.

As a story of pure urban fantasy though it is lacking in a way of fantastical world building which left me feeling rather confused at times. Was this real, was this a drug addled dream, or is this an ambiguous narrative created by a mind set on creating fantasy out of very real fear?
There are several different mindsets I feel readers can take going into this novel to suit personal tastes. Either 1: Read the entirety of the story as a cynical metaphor, an allegory of an abusive reality. Where blood pacts, Wild Hunts and animated silk dolls are all used to describe the blood, sweat and tears of abuse, lust and leaving a part of oneself behind.

2: Read the story as straight urban fantasy, or magical realism. Take the narrator at her word and trust that her roommate has a tail, that ghost dolls exist and singers can literally show you their heart. Understanding that magic is around every corner and nothing is ever as it seems.

3. Read it as a mix of the two. Where fact and fiction meld together in a strangely engrossing mix of fantasy and reality.