First sentence: “Wolfe Studios released a tarot deck’s worth of stories about me over the years.”
Maid or monster, which would you rather be known for?
For Luli Wei—a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill desperate to be a star in Hollywood that’s full of monsters—she’ll do anything to make it, even if that means bargaining with monsters and sacrificing a bit of herself to become one.
Everybody knows Hollywood is full of monsters.
Although Siren Queens is set in a fantastical world, the Hollywood here isn’t that much different from the Hollywood that it’s based on. It’s filled with predatory producers and directors with power trips—all monsters hiding behind their facades waiting to prey on the weak and desperate to make blood pacts and such—and desperate up-and-comers who would sell their souls for less than nothing to make it big. It’s not hard to believe that the real life Hollywood is full of monsters—they might not look like monsters but you have people like Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen, sooooo…
I wanted Siren Queens to explore more of the monsters in their revealed form.
Love her or hate her, Luli Wei can be a polarizing character for readers because of her ambition and desperation.
Luli is the type of person who would stop at nothing to achieve her star in Hollywood—even if it means hurting others and giving parts of herself to the monsters lurking. That desperation blinds her—her lack of forethought of how her actions can affect others can make it difficult for readers to root for her, but I can’t fault her actions.
She gotta do what she gotta do to make it in a business where she’s judged by her ethnicity and her sex. At least she isn’t totally sacrificing her values, specifically playing into stereotypical roles that Hollywood pigeonholes Asians into. Whatever price she has to make—giving up her blood or years of her life—is worth the stardom that Luli is looking for, and honestly, the lengths she’s gone through is kind of admirable despite how unhinged and desperate it makes her.
Siren Queen is queer as fuck.
Be still your gay hearts because ya’ll, Siren Queen is queer as fuck. Lots of WLW action. There’s some ~spicyyyyy scenes that will get your hearts racing!!
Siren Queen commentates on prevalent subjects that plague Hollywood like the predatory nature, racism, homophobia, and much more.
Everything that is explored is rooted in truths. You see it time and time again with sexism, the revelations of abuse (like the #MeToo movement), racism, and homophobia that runs rampant throughout the eras of Hollywood. I loved the exploration of these subjects—it’s the best part of the book to read how Luli Wei and some of these characters dealt with the seedy underbelly of Hollywood and how it affected them.
The magical realism element in Siren Queen is vague at best, but nonetheless intriguing.
This world is strange—it’s full of monsters in human bodies and Faustian bargains in blood pacts that is never fully explained how or why. The magic just is like air.
This book expects you to know this world, the way that magic works, and the monsters that live in it, but because it’s vague, I couldn’t fully appreciate the world that Nghi Vo built. On the other hand though, the lack of details in how the magic and supernatural element works create an ominous, unsettling tone that looms over the story.
Should you read Siren Queen? Yes. Get to know Luli Wei and her Hollywood full of monsters, but don’t expect too much from the vague magical realism.