Review | JADE FIRE GOLD by June CL Tan

Review of JADE FIRE GOLD by June CL Tan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

“You may not be able to change the past, but with each action, you can change the future.”

JADE FIRE GOLD should’ve been the first part in a duology


In an empire on the brink of war…

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.


I have mixed feelings about JADE FIRE GOLD. I really wanted to like this one and did like some aspects of it, such as the Chinese-inspired elements and story concept. However, the characters fell flat as did the romance. We were promised a Zutara-romance and while I get why it got called that, I missed the real enemies to lovers feeling.

I wasn’t a big fan of the characters. I actually liked Ahn’s best friend (however short the introduction was) and Leiye the most. The rest of the characters felt a bit shallow and I didn’t connect with them. I wanted to love Altan and Ahn, but there wasn’t enough depth to them for me to actually feel like I know them. I also didn’t understand how everyone trust each other so quickly. I found it strange how everyone was linked to each other and happened to cross each other’s paths.

About the romance. I actually liked the idea of two people with each other and I kept waiting for the romance, and it turned out I was ‘rooting’ for the wrong characters. The characters who ended up together were a weird match? They knew nothing about each other and started talking about having feelings and being in love? It all happened a bit too fast for me.

I did like the writing and the original concept of JADE FIRE GOLD. The characters however made the story a bit too bland. The plot was full of clichés, which made the story less exciting and quite predictable. I normally don’t mind some clichés, but here it felt like we got one cliché after the other, and it became too much.

I like that the book is a standalone, but I was thinking it might’ve been better as a duology. That way, the author could’ve added some more details to the story and made it a bit more interesting.

Would I recommend it?

Not particularly. If you’re looking for a story inspired by Chinese folklore, you could check this book out!


Trigger warnings
Self-harm (gouging/eye horror; non-graphic), child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting), parent death (implied and off-page), character deaths, mentions and descriptions of fantasy/magical violence (blood, war, political violence), mentions and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia, alcohol consumption
Chinese-coded cast, Chinese-coded world, f/f side relationship, mlm side character
Fantasy (young adult)
Publication date
October 12th 2021
About the author
June CL Tan is a Singaporean author who was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. After obtaining three degrees, she decided she had enough of academia. Thankfully, those degrees were somewhat related to telling stories and now, she resides in New York City, writing under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel.

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