Date Read: May 26, 2019
Title: Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune
Author: Roselle Lim
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 3 stars
World Building: Chinatown in San Francisco during the housing/cost of living boom. So, you know, right now ?? I would have liked more of the community. I didn’t get a real sense of what was going on (except in the general, already known fact of cost of living skyrocketing).
Characters/Character development: Whatever happened to the vulture-like realtor, anyway? I just remembered her, and now I realize she just sort of faded back into the background from which she came. Some of the characters are stronger than others (to be honest, I found most of them to be pretty flat), and I did find myself getting extremely annoyed with Natalie quite often.
Plot: Natalie Tan has spent most of her adult life running away from her mother’s expectations. Now she returns when she finds out her mother has died. She’s also inherited her grandmother’s restaurant in the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco and her grandmother’s magic-infused recipe book. Natalie wants to reopen the restaurant and help revitalize the community, but will she be able to overcome her natural tendency to run when things get too tough?
Writing Style: I very much enjoyed the descriptions of food, and how Natalie experiences cooking. There’s a touch of magic in everything she prepares and when people eat the food itself, which is beautifully described. I think the author has definite potential, but this does read like a first novel. I was very distracted by all the similes, especially during the first part of the book. I also felt like Natalie was narrating her own life at times, rather than being a participant. It was odd. I think some of these “issues” are related to my own reading preferences, though, and it wouldn’t discourage me from recommending this to other readers.
Overall, a strong debut with potential for more. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys magic infused fiction (Sarah Addison Allen immediately comes to mind as a comparable author). Thank you Penguin Random House for providing me with the ARC.