Author: Janie Chang
Summary: Enjoyable but a bit bland and not as good as the author’s earlier novel.
Although I enjoyed this book, it left me with mixed feelings. The writing was good, but it mostly just stayed out of the way of the story. The scenery wasn’t easy to picture and sometimes I felt I was only given a few small details about a place or a person – not enough to picture them as a whole. The plot was fast-paced, but I didn’t feel especially emotionally invested. The only time I found myself getting a little emotional was in the last chapter or two.
The historical setting was interesting and I learned a little bit about post-WWII China, but it was less than I would have liked. The ending might be a bit too neat for some people, but I like a neat ending where everything comes together and everything is wrapped up nicely. I also liked that Fox’s magic wasn’t so powerful it made everything easy; it just gave our protagonist more difficult choices. The plot felt a little sensational and unbelievable in part, but not because of the magic. At times the magic felt tacked on to the story though and at others, it felt like a lazy plot device.
In short, I enjoyed this, but nothing about it blew me away. I would recommend it if you enjoy light historical fiction with decent writing, an exciting plot, and a nice, neat ending. I could definitely see intentionally picking something like this up as a light comfort read. However, compared to the author’s debut, Three Souls, the descriptions were less vivid; the magical realism less well integrated; and the story less engaging. I’d definitely check out Three Souls first!
For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tour.