September 5, 2023

REVIEW Theo Tan and the Iron Fan (Theo Tan #2) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Theo Tan and the Iron Fan (Theo Tan #2) 
by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: June 27, 2023
Format: Audiobook (Borrrowed from Library)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends 

In the sequel to Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit, Theo Tan and the Iron Fan, human teenager Theo and his fox spirit companion Kai are on a quest to the land of the dead in a desperate attempt to bring his older brother (and Kai’s former master) Jaime back to life. A wild adventure ensues, as they travel through the various courts of hell and battle demons to make it happen. 

The worldbuilding in this book was once again top-notch. The book takes its inspiration from Chinese mythology, and the story heavily surrounds the notion of what happens after you die. I loved getting to dive more into the lore and learn more about Diyu (which is essentially “Hell’s Waiting Room”). There are a lot of figures and demons that the group encounters during their journey - the Demon Bull King and Princess Iron Fan herself were very imposing figures. I was also pretty enamored with Fragrant Sausage. 

Caleb Yen and Kimberley Wong did an excellent job of bringing Theo and Kai’s perspectives to life in the audiobook version of the book. Despite the heaviness surrounding being in the land of the Dead (and the resulting grief and trauma that Theo and Kai  in particular have to go through), there’s still a humorous air to the book. The goofiness and heart of the characters were a highlight of the book. Each of the teenagers had to learn to lean on each other in order to make it out of Diyu alive. I enjoyed how Kai still made multiple sarcastic comments under her breath to break the tension. The dynamic between Kai and Xioahua (the two spirit companions of the book) was humorous at times as well. 

Overall, this was another excellent middle-grade mythology tale. If you are a kid or an adult who's a kid at heart and would enjoy a diverse tale with a unique magic system, immersive cultural elements, and a strong sense of family then Theo Tan and the Iron Fan should be your next read! It's unclear whether this is part of a larger series or set as a duology, but I think the book wraps up nicely either way. 

About the Author

Jesse Q Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Jakarta and Singapore and sees both cities as her homes. She has a Masters degree from Oxford University, though she has yet to figure out a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. She is currently living back in Jakarta on the same street as her parents and about seven hundred meddlesome aunties. When she's not tearing out her hair over her latest WIP, she spends her time baking and playing FPS games. Oh, and also being a mom to her two kids. 

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