A dazzling new novel where immortality is just a casting call away
It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.
“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.
But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.
Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.
An Indie Next pick
A Top Ten LibraryReads pick
An Amazon Editor’s Top 10 Book of the Month
A B&N Bookseller Favorite
A Best of May Pick by Apple Books | TIME Magazine | The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Vo’s spellbinding latest solidifies her position as a force to be reckoned with. . . . [Her] hypnotic prose blends metaphor with magic so seamlessly that reality itself becomes slippery. Her dazzling voice, evocative scene setting, and ambitious protagonist make this a knockout.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“In this stellar novel, Vo turns Hollywood into a fairyland—the kind from the old stories, sharp and dangerous—and laces the sparkling silver romance of the movies with a dark, exploitative, hungry greed. . . . Pair that vivid world with the stubborn, passionate Luli and a pace that turns from slow and delightfully sexy to vast and terrifying with the turn of a page and you have the brilliantly searing Siren Queen.” —Booklist, starred review
“Movie magic is made manifest, beguiling, and deadly in Vo’s tale about Luli, a Chinese American girl who is determined to realize her dreams of movie stardom. . . . Luli is a compelling character both on and off the screen in this story that takes the mythmaking of Hollywood and transforms it and her into something transcendent. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, starred review
“The glitz of the golden age of Hollywood was never bright enough to hide the darkness behind the scenes, but here Nghi Vo creates a world where the once metaphorical monsters of the studio system drop their disguises. Haunting, thrilling, and beautifully told, Siren Queen captures a portrait of magic, fear, and love as vivid as any I’ve seen on the silver screen.” —Amazon Editors, Best Book of May 2022
“Vo reimagines 1930s Old Hollywood in this glittering and haunting historical fantasy loosely based on the life of Chinese American actor Anna May Wong. . . . This riveting novel so deeply enmeshes magic with reality that it often feels impossible to differentiate the two. It’s a breathtaking read.” —BuzzFeed
“Searing and seductive, Siren Queen is the kind of book that leaves you wrecked on its shores. When I look up at the stars, I’ll think of Luli.” —Alix E. Harrow, New York Times-bestselling author of The Once and Future Witches
“Nghi Vo has become one of my favorite writers, and Siren Queen is lush and brilliant, a mesmerizing journey into a pre-code Hollywood that is all sharp edges, with the darkest magic and highest stakes.” —Martha Wells, author of Network Effect
“A piece of perfection. It is queer and it is unapologetic and it is loving and it is a reminder that we can survive our demons, that we can outsmart them, that we can beat them at their own game.” —Cassandra Khaw, USA Today bestselling author of Nothing But Blackened Teeth
“Vo imagines the golden age of Hollywood as full of fey and dangerous creatures ready to claim your soul in exchange for fame on the big screen. . . . This book kept me up reading until the late hours.” —Rebecca Roanhorse, New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun
“The book of my dreams—vivid, sensual, frightening, and inexpressibly gorgeous, often in the same sentence. . . . Nghi Vo is a magician—no—maybe a god.” —Kelly Robson, author of Gods, Monsters & the Lucky Peach