The Lotus Flower Champion

The Lotus Flower Champion
Age Range
Release Date
October 31, 2023
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No escape. Follow the rules. And don’t count on reality―in this uniquely vibrant romantasy from NYT bestselling author Pintip Dunn and daughter Love Dunn…

It looks like paradise…only it’s not.

This was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Thailand. One last wish for my dying mama. Instead, we’re stranded on a lush, stunning island with ten strangers―held captive as Thai mythology unfolds around us…and within us.

Now we’re being tested. We’re expected to face our greatest fears―and possible deaths―in hopes of awakening some kind of dormant gift…or curse. One by one, we’re transforming, echoing the strange and sometimes wondrous abilities found in Thai folktales.

But my mama has only days to live, my papa is missing, and I’m forced to trust a group of strangers…including our evasive, dark-eyed tour guide, who resembles a minor god. Toss me in the ocean and feed me to the naga now.

Only I’m no hero. My days are managed by numbers and the compulsions that used to keep me safe.

I have to prove how far I can go. To survive. To protect my family.

And to find a way off this perilous island where everything is a lie…including reality.

Editor review

1 review
fascinating YA fantasy
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THE LOTUS FLOWER CHAMPION is an intriguing YA fantasy with a lot of mystery and a bit of magic. Alaia is on a trip with her parents as a last request from her mother, who is dying from cancer. She is determined to make the last days her mother has count, filling them with smiles. However, their trip does not go as planned when the boat that they are on begins to sink, and they board a life raft only to end up on a deserted island.

The island seems particularly unusual for its lack of animals and any kind of civilization. They band together with the people from their life raft to try to survive until help can arrive, but they soon learn that they are part of an experiment to see whether they can manifest powers from mythology. Alaia is determined to be strong and get off the island before her mother runs out of the medications keeping her comfortable, but she is struggling with her OCD, a constant in her life. As time progresses, Alaia will do whatever it takes to escape and keep her mother safe.

What I loved: This was such an imaginative premise, and it was intriguing to see how it was slowly revealed to the reader. The mystery of what was going on, whether they would be able to escape, and how the powers might manifest really kept the pages turning. The insights the reader is given into the Thai mythology was also really fascinating and provided additional context for what was happening to the people stranded on this island.

The strongest element of the story was Alaia's OCD and the ways that she knows to cope with it as well as the way it makes her feel. Having OCD is a challenge for her, but the strength that she uses to overcome it is the core of her being. This representation felt quite genuine and was critical to the story and Alaia's character.

Themes around power, the human spirit, manipulation, betrayal, and the difficulty of facing our inner (and outer) challengers were all really compelling. Alaia needs inner strength, and it is this which she begins to embrace and acknowledge as she pushes herself to the limit for both her OCD and for her survival.

There were a lot of great characters in the story as well, as we get to know the rest of the group along the way. Mateo was a particular favorite of mine, but there were also several other strong characters that really added to the story. Even with a large cast, it was relatively easy to remember the characters and not allow them to go bad.

What left me wanting more: As a small thing, the story began to feel repetitive after the halfway mark. Additionally, the romance fell a little flat, perhaps because of how much is spent within Alaia's head rather than on conversations.

Final verdict: THE LOTUS FLOWER CHAMPION is a fascinating and clever YA fantasy with compelling characters and an intriguing premise. Recommend picking this one up if you like a bit of mystery and magic in your fantasy!
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