Book Review

She Who Became the Sun Review

Book Cover

“I refuse to be nothing…”


My Review

Content/Trigger Warnings from the Author:

“SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is a book about gender identity (amongst other things). While the two genderqueer protagonists reflect aspects of my own experiences of genderqueerness, this doesn’t mean these perspectives are necessarily affirming to any other LGBTQIA+ identifying persons. Please read the warnings if you’re concerned, and take care of yourselves.

Most violence occurs offscreen, and the level of depicted blood and gore is in line with that of your average 15+ historical TV drama.

It is an adult book, not YA.”

Content warnings:
* Dysphoria
* Pre-existing non-consensual castration
* Misgendering
* Internalised homophobia
* Life-altering injury (amputation)
* Ableist language
* Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
* Major character death
* Offscreen murder of a child
* Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
* Graphic depiction of a person burning to death

What an amazing book.

I don’t know that I could even do justice to it by review it, but we’re gonna try.

Set towards the end of the Mongol rule, this is the reimagining of the Ming Dynasty’s start and its emperor.

Though this could be seen as an epic ‘Mulan-esque’ story I would say that it’s much more than that. Zhu becomes someone else to achieve a destiny she wants, to avoid the fate that awaited her before taking up the mantle of another. Every move she does is to forget the child and girl she was to become someone who will achieve greatness. And she’ll do anything to achieve it. Zhu is smart, ambitious, and not entirely without heart. She is the perfect example of a morally grey character and the growth she goes through is staggering, especially on emotional level. Zhu transcends the generic views of gender classification. Zhu is not a woman dressing up to go to war. Zhu is simply Zhu, and has a destiny to catch.

The story also follows General Ouyang, another person with a fate that shapes them. His destiny is set off, despite him not wanting it but he goes through it with the determination in which he led as a General. He harbors such a conflicted smattering of emotions, his affections for Esen and his hatred for what he stands for entwine and make something beautiful and terrifying that I loved reading. He was certainly a dark horse but not really any ‘worse’ than anyone else the book focuses on. Especially given what happens to Esen, which I won’t spoil for you all but that’s some character development right there.

Then there is Ma, who is pure and good and an absolute cinnamon roll.

The cast of characters in this is AMAZING and the pacing is pretty good, it’s more historical fiction than fantasy at this point, which shoes in the pacing, but there are elements to it that are rising up to its fantasy genre.

Parker-Chan’s writing style just took me in from the first page and I don’t know how I’m going to make it while waiting for the sequel. The political intrigue was a 15/10 and the action scenes were also 15/10, seriously, I cannot emphasize enough how superior this book was for an ‘action’ novel. GO FORTH AND READ.

5/5 huge cups of coffee from me! I’m so glad I got to read this as part of the Illumicrate readalong!

EDIT: Forgot to add, Shelley Parker-Chan is extra amazing and added this pronunciation guide for those who might need it!

By TheCaffeinatedReader

A Caffeinated Reader and Musician, destined to write lacklustre book reviews with the over-ample amount of free time.

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