The conclusion to Chloe Gong’s Secret Shanghai series has officially arrived with the release of Foul Heart Huntsman. Taking place after the events of Foul Lady Fortune, Huntsman picks up with Shanghai in complete disarray — Rosalind is trying to help Orion remember who he is while war is waging all across Shanghai. Not only that, her true identity as assassin Fortune has been exposed making her an easy target for just about everybody.
Rosalind has been cooped up in her room for weeks with a swarm of media perched right outside the building. If she wants to save Orion, it’s nearly impossible; that is until she decides to embark on a national tour as Fortune under the guise of boosting morale against the Japanese. Rosalind’s real motive, however, lies in getting Orion back from the clutches of Lady Hong. To save him and the nation, Rosalind and Orion must find a cure to his mother’s traitorous invention but they’re running out of time. This prompts ghosts from the past to make their presence known while adversaries turn into allies.
Foul Heart Huntsman is a perfect conclusion to the Secret Shanghai universe Chloe Gong has so beautifully crafted. With a hefty count of 545 pages, the pacing can be sluggish at times. In some chapters, there was a bit of a juggling act happening in reintroducing some fan-favorite characters and trying to fit them into the story while keeping the overall focus on Rosalind and Orion. With that being said, every character serves a mighty purpose — think Avengers: Endgame but set in Shanghai. Gong’s strong world building and character development is on full display in Huntsman, showing just how much she’s grown as a writer since These Violent Delights.
Huntsman is a masterpiece of storytelling with Gong offering explanations to many questions that lingered after LVC and FLF. There is a heavy focus on the strong women of the Secret Shanghai universe, Gong’s innate ability to frequently switch points of view proving excellent, once again. Rosalind, Juliette, Celia, Alisa, and Phoebe — women we very rarely see flinch when it comes to stabbing a poisoned hairpin or their knives into their enemy — are at their most raw and vulnerable when it comes to protecting the ones they love most. The more we learn about them through this duology, the more painful the end of the series becomes for me personally. There’s definitely a market for a book on Alisa or Celia/Oliver. Celia has been one of my favorite characters in the universe since TVD and there were moments in this book that I genuinely had to put the book down to scream! As far as Rosalind and Orion go, their banter is off the charts and since this book starts after they’ve began falling for each other, the dynamic serves them and this book much better.
If there was ever a perfect conclusion to a beloved series, Foul Heart Huntsman is it. Gong has managed to captivate readers with the historical intrigue of 1930’s Shanghai and elements of fantasy and gripping romances through all five of her Secret Shanghai books. Overall, if you’re a fan of a spy thrillers that take inspiration from Shakespearean classics with an epic finale, this duology is most certainly a must-read.
Foul Heart Huntsman is available wherever you purchase your books.