I finally had the chance to finish up my friend Cindy's debut novel Silver Phoenix (sorry Cindy!). It was so good! It's really quite something to be able to read a book that somebody you know wrote!
My favorite thing about the book, hands down, is how DETAILED she gets in describing the food. I was constantly hungry while reading the book... hee hee! It made me laugh because it was so obvious how much Cindy loves food while reading her book.
Okay, just kidding, while that was among the things I liked best about the book, it wasn't my most FAVORITE thing. Her book reminds me of the sort of wu xia type books of Chinese folklore and fantasy -- all the beasts and magic and fantastical creatures and fighting! It really has that sort of Jin Yong type feel to it -- only her characters aren't petty and annoying as Jin Yong's can be. I really like how strong Ai Ling is as a character, impetuous but empathetic, and how she's loved for her untraditional traits. And her love for food definitely helps (seriously!). I am so proud of Cindy for coming up with something that is so inventive and interesting in terms of characters and different kinds of beasts and other magical elements, completely giving her own take on Chinese-type fantasy. And her descriptions of all of these worlds and elements were so detailed. I only wish kinda that we got to spend more time in some of those places - like the one-armed town! We only got to see it mostly from a pastoral walk and then from the inside of prison. I would have loved to find out more about what the people are like, what their customs are, etc. Woulda been cool to have them land in a place different from their own and have to interact with them for a few days or weeks at length so we get a true immersion of a different place. I think that's probably my biggest criticism - I felt we were introduced to so many really cool elements, that I wish I had spent more time with them to really get to understand them and be immersed as opposed to only meeting each of them for a chapter or two and then moving on to the next ones. I wanted to get a real feel and understanding of these alternate worlds, that I'm not sure I got right now because we were introduced to so many but not over an extended period of time.
I'm really intrigued by what's going to happen in the sequel (Chen Yong's daddy search? Backstory on what happened with Silver Phoenix and Zhong Ye? Ai Ling and Chen Yong sitting in a tree?) because I feel like there are so many questions left unanswered!!!
Good job Cindy!! I am so proud of you!