The Lotus Flower Champion is the perfect YA mother-daughter fantasy thriller


The Lotus Flower Champion is written by Pintip Dunn and her daughter Love, and perhaps because it’s written by a mother and daughter, it is the perfect mother-daughter story. It all begins with Alaia and her parents on vacation. Her mother is dying of cancer and she simply wants to spend her final days in peace in Thailand. Alaia, as you can imagine, is not dealing with it well.

She has OCD and her mother and father are her lifeline. They keep her safe. They make things make sense. How is she supposed to survive without her mom?

While on a yacht exploring the waters with other travelers, the boat shipwrecks. Alaia’s father stays on the ship to help a pregnant woman, and Alaia and her mom make it to the lifeboats and make it off the yacht. But then a bomb goes off and Alaia’s world turns black.

She ends up waking up on an island with her mom, the boy she met on the yacht, Bodin, and a group of other passengers. At first, they think that someone will come to rescue them in a matter of days, but then the captain shows up.

The Lotus Flower Champion ties together Thai folktales and a dark island experiment

The captain is named Xander, and keeping the group of passengers on this island is part of his plan. He plans to put all of them to the test to reveal the magical abilities they have hidden within them. These abilities also happen to correspond with Thai folktales. Lola has flowers and worms coming out of her mouth. Preston has his mouth turned into a pinhole. Sylvie can talk to animals.

But as they all try to survive the island and find their secret abilities, Xander makes their lives more and more unbearable. And some people on the island that Alaia thought she could trust turn out to have quite a few secrets.

And what about Alaia’s magical ability? What will it be? Or will her OCD keep it from coming out? And how is her mother supposed to survive without her medications?

I absolutely loved this book. I cannot say enough good things about it. The OCD representation in Alaia is so utterly perfect. It’s complex as most mental illnesses are and going along with Alaia on this horrifying journey was amazing. She grows so much, but by the end, she still has OCD. She isn’t magically cured. And that makes the ending even more powerful.

The connections Alaia makes on the island and how that is shown throughout the story are also so well done. While there are definitely some plot points that make this an interesting and thrilling read, it’s each of the characters that make it so compelling. And Alaia is the most compelling of them all because of how flawed she is. I saw myself in many parts of her personality. Anxiety may not be the same as OCD but they have similar aspects and I was very drawn to those aspects of her.

Finally, the twists and turns that are woven throughout the book could not be more fantastic. Just when you think you know where it’s going, it takes a complete left turn. It was thrilling and exciting and had me frantically turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.

But along with those twists and turns, the story never strayed from the humanity of the characters. It was essential, and Pintip and Love Dunn showed the humanity of each character so expertly.

If you love young adult fantasy thrillers and Thai and OCD rep, you need to read this book. Even if you aren’t a fantasy reader, you need to read this book.

The Lotus Flower Champion by Pintip Dunn and Love Dunn is available now in hardcover and ebook formats.

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