Series: The Radiant Emperor #1
Author: Shelly Parker-Chan
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: July 20th, 2021
She Who Became the Sun is one of those novels that promise to do the impossible. Mulan meets The Song of Achilles thanks to Shelly Parker-Chan’s prose.
Zhu Chongba is a girl who grew up with nothing. She was born on a dusty plain, under a different name. Had she not been so clever, she would have been fated to follow the path of the rest of the little girls around her. She would have died.
Zhu knew that to survive – to seize her destiny – she would have to do something bold. But she’s capable of doing anything, including defying the fate that her elders tried to force upon her.
“I can do this. I can learn. I can survive.”
Wow. She Who Became the Sun hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer. No, seriously, this is a novel that will force emotions from even the toughest reader, as Zhu’s story starts in such a painfully human manner.
From there, her world quickly changes. It’s impossible to look away. At least, I found that to be the case. Admittedly the pacing is a little bit slow, especially after the introduction is complete. It’s not until about the one/third mark that the novel will begin picking up again.
It’s worth that investment and time – I promise you. Everything laid down in the earlier parts comes to fruition, creating a dense and compelling tale. It’s around this point where the comparisons (Mulan and The Song of Achilles) will suddenly make sense.
“She was always going to be expelled into that world of chaos and violence – of greatness and nothingness.”
While She Who Became the Sun has been favorably compared to other novels, I should also mention that it is also so much more than that. This is not a retelling by any means, and it is important to keep that in mind. Retellings are often restricted due to their very nature. There is none of that here, and the risks Shelly Parker-Chan takes pay off.
Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.