What do you think?
Rate this book
288 pages, Hardcover
First published November 3, 2015
"Maoshan isn't like other traditions. We are ghost hunters, spirit mediums, and exorcists. When creatures out of nightmare trouble Chinatown, people come to the Maoshan for protection. With paper talismans we drive away the spirits, with magic gourds we imprison them, with peachwood swords we destroy them. People fear those who live at the border of the spirit world. They say a hold of death taints us. They might be right."This book was everything I didn't know I wanted; a proper little gem picked up on a whim just because the literary Gods smiled upon me one evening. I did not expect to get so into it, but when your protagonist is a martial arts expert with astral projection abilities who can see into the depths of the supernatural underworld of 19th century Chinatown in San Francisco...I don't believe it's possible to go wrong.
"First I needed to defeat Shi Jin and recover the red string. Once I'd done that, I'd return to my body, find Mr. Liu, and make him pay. He had cut my skin. It was a violation, and he was going to suffer for it."The world-building in this book was out of this world - quite literally. I think it was the best part and I found it so incredibly inspiring. Based on Chinese folklore, it features a whole bunch of spooky and weird spirits, which are incredibly cool to read about. Li-Lin's magic and religion is based on Taoism and it was ever so cool to read about the practices.
"Mr. Liu was a man of power. He'd broken the spell on my peachwood sword. I could haunt him from the spirit world – move objects around, possess people – but he was a Daoshi, of the third ordination or higher. If I approached him in spirit form, he could drive me away with an octagonal mirror, trap me in a bottleneck gourd, or burn a paper talisman and incinerate me."I was sucked up into the world, pretty much just wishing for an encyclopaedia just about this fictional world that I could devour much as I devoured the novel. But of course there was a plot to read about, too. And though it paled in comparison to the world building, it wasn't half bad. It focused on Li-Lin's status as a young immigrant widow with yin-eyes, her relationships with her father and the spirits she encounters, her desire to seek revenge on the con artist that violated her, and hopefully bring a bit of honour to her family. I liked the highly personal aspects of the plot. In the end it got a bit "save-the-world"-y, which I liked less, but I had to admit it was a fitting ending.