Of Jade and Dragons | Amber Chen


Coming June 18th, 2024 from Viking Books for Young Readers; 480 pages

About the Author: “Amber Chen is a Singaporean-Chinese author of SFF and contemporary fiction. She spends much of her free time living within Chinese fantasy novels and dramas, and also drinks one too many cups of bubble tea. Her debut silkpunk fantasy novel, Of Jade and Dragons, is forthcoming from Penguin Teen in Summer 2024. One of her webnovels, The Cutting Edge, has been adapted for television” (Bio from author’s website).

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“I wished for both of us to get our heart’s desire. If only I knew then that this is how it would end.”

Amber Chen’s debut novel, Of Jade and Dragons, is a fresh twist on the classic Mulan story. The novel follows ambitious Aihui Ying after her father’s mysterious death via a masked assassin. She has always dreamt of joining the Engineers Guild, and, now, with a journal full of her father’s engineering secrets, a jade pendant stolen from the assassin himself, and a hunger to seek revenge, she must disguise herself as her brother and attempt the Engineers Guild challenges. As Ying begins to prove herself under her brother’s likeness, she soon will discover secrets regarding her father’s hidden past and learn the shady ways of the emperor’s High Command, despite her growing closeness with the eighth prince. While Ying must face challenges of the mind, heart, and soul, she is accompanied by the mysterious heartthrob, Prince Ye-Yang, and Ye-Kan, a hothead with almost as many secrets as herself.

Of Jade and Dragons is a book packed full of cinematic scenes inspired by Chinese mythology and culture. While reading, I was constantly reminded of not only the classic Mulan story, but also Avatar the Last Airbender (especially the Northern air temple) and even, to some extent, the original Throne of Glass novel by Sara J. Mass. Chen expertly crafts a story that is simultaneously a romance, a murder mystery, a fantasy epic, and a heist all at once. Ying is a resourceful and stubborn protagonist, but she isn’t without her faults, displaying naïve tendencies and a bit of a death wish. The book starts off with a bang, wasting no time and immediately diving into the steampunk world of Fei, where the Engineers Guild is held. I absolutely flew through this novel with its excellent pacing, captivating romance, and ongoing mystery. While this was one of my favorite reads of 2024 so far, it isn’t without a few hiccups. The ending of this novel left me wanting more and questioning where the story will go from here. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the conclusion of this novel, but according to Chen, this is the first in the Fall of the Dragon series. I am excited to see where she takes Ying’s story from here!

Of Jade and Dragons releases on June 18th, 2024.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank Viking Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Jenica Delaney, Pine Reads Review Writer