The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Richly detailed in the tradition of wuxia novels with a more modern Americanized feel. Reading this felt like dropping into the middle of a movie. I could almost pictures the sights, sounds, and smells of old Chinatown.
Li-lin is not your typical overpowered heroine. She must use her weakness and her wits more than her martial arts strength to overcome her opponents. In the beginning, she runs away a lot. Some of the language around her repeated decisions to flee began to sound repetitive, but I admire her ability to assess and pull back from a risky situation rather than blundering further into trouble.
The spirits featured in the story are also varied and interesting, from a tiger who has changed his ways through Buddhism to her father's detached eye to a flock of prophetic spirit gulls. The promise they extract from Li-lin before agreeing to help her leaves the story perfectly primed for a sequel.
The strength in this novel lies in the immersive world building and colorful descriptions of the Daoist customs of its main characters and the spirits that inhibit Chinatown's spirit world. Sometimes the story felt in turns scattered or repetitive, though this may just a symptom of trying to work in so much into one book. Li-lin is also at times perhaps a bit too naive (e.g. the contract). The fast pacing and attention-grabbing narrative pulled me through those places though, eager to reach the resolution.
If you enjoyed the spirit realm depicted here, give The Ghost Bride a try. Meanwhile, I feel like watching some wuxia. :)
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