I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.
Take flight to China’s Opium Wars of the mid-19th century in this epic historical fantasy.
Young orphan Leung Chi-Yen, born into the seedy world of Canton brothels, finds an opportunity to escape her fate during the chaos of British attacks on her country. Along with an unreliable monk from the fallen Temple of Seven Dragons, she journeys to North America at the time of the gold rush, the Indian wars, and the taming of the Wild West.
Can she forge a new life for herself in this strange, dangerous world? And what about that mysterious Chinese dragon that has followed her so far from home?
I got this ARC from Netgalley and this is my honest Review of it
Chi-yen is a girl in 19th century Canton who lives in a brothel as a servant girl,where life is harsh and often brutal and even more so for someone whose blue eyes clearly tell the world that she is mixed race due to her prostitue mother becoming pregnant by a foreigner.
Chi-Yen cant remember much about her mother apart from some words of wisdom she shared with her
"To live a happy life you must always be the second ugliest girl in the house."
So she keeps ugly and this plan works well enough until her mothers strategy fails and she is noticed by a costumer there is only one thing to do- run away but of course she has nowhere to go so she returns pretty soon.
But luckily she is given a respite from having become a prostitute for a while.
Then we meet Sin-Feng who is a young apprentice monk at the Temple of Seven Dragons who often has to come by the brothel to pick up his master Liu Kun who is always intoxicated either from opium or alcohol.
All their lives are upset when there is a rebellion against the western foreigners living in the city and The temple of the Seven Dragons is destroyed,the monks killed and the treasure of the monks is sought by the evil Basil Malvenue (names to run away from really fast) who is on a mission to secure the it at all costs on behalf of Queen Victoria
So she never actually appears in the book
but if I am to Review a slightly boring book you got to
allow me to have some fun at least.
Escaping with the treasure that is actually dragons egg and with instructions to take it to San Francisco they are on their way to the new country pursued by Basil Malvenue.
This was a lot more dull than I expected.
The title of the book "A long way" felt very fitting as it took so long for something to happen and during the book at least a decade passes---so slow. Much of it is traveling first to go to another country and then later trying to find the illusive dragon.
I didnt feel much for the characters. I did admire Chi-Yens craftiness but I also found verging on the Mary-Sue-ish that some things like languages came so easily to her.
The book tries to explain it by saying that she has been around so many foreigners during her life she picked up things-and it comes pretty natural to her because she has an ear for language. If you say so book...
I found the supporting characters of Liu Kun and Sin-feng to be less than lovable.
Always tricking or being mean to Chi-Yen despite the fact that she is the most resourceful of them.
When she finally stands up to them it was a pretty great thing. What took you so long!But I kept secretly hoping she would ditch them as I didnt really understand what kept them connected.
Wich brings me to another thing there are no significiant female characters for the most of this book,well not anyhow after they reach USA
Out of the 4 other female characters in China ,apart from the main character who appears in this book two are more or less villains,the third one only has two lines and the fourth one while showing some positive traits is killed off pretty soon.
The writing is very dry and cumbersome and quite a lot of it was just info dumping to be honest.I just find it very hard to believe that a 12 year old girl would think like a history book reads especially if she supposed to be a simple servant girl.
Omniscient writing works sometimes but mostly it doesnt-That is very true for this book.
And something else that bothered me is how so many men seems to have lecherous intentions or expresses interest towards Chi-Yen from age 12 and up. It had me abit uncomfortable to be honest and leads up to my final thought on "A long way"
I cant quite figure out if this is actually an adult book with a teen character or a YA with claims to wanting to be gritty and real. It just seems like it ends up in between those. For those who go into reading this because of the magic aspect there isnt much and what is comes across as vague and more than a little esoteric.
And for those who want to read it because of the historical aspect may find it has too much magic.
And then there is the the ending I have read worse but it was pretty much a downer.