December Countdown, Day 14 : Christmas Pudding

December book meme (details here). Christmas pudding – if you could squeeze in just one more book for 2020 :


The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M H Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes was such a great read that I simply have to start this review by saying go and give it a whirl.

The story is set in the late 1800s in San Francisco’s Chinatown and brings to us a compelling story with a wonderful protagonist.  Li Lin is a Daoist priestess, daughter to a powerful exorcist who protects the neighbourhood from harmful spirits.  Unfortunately Li Lin’s father has enemies who will go to great lengths to harm him and increase their own power and would use Li Lin to try and gain advantage.  At the start of the story Li Lin is betrayed by a friend and tricked into a situation that places both her and her father at great risk and sets her on a course to seek the truth and prevent further damage.

How best to start this review.  Well, firstly this story is packed with imagination.  There are all sorts of spirits and monsters that frankly are great to read about.  On top of this the author manages to evoke the period and open your eyes to the wealth of superstitions, folklore and myth that surrounded the people of the era.  And, on top of that, I just feel like the author does an excellent job of bringing to us a likable protagonist who you can really feel for and get behind, especially given the restrictions of the era not only for a young woman but a young woman dealing with the loss of a husband and the shame of having yin eyes (the ability to see spirits).  Li Lin struggles with her own self belief and also constantly strives to gain the affection of her strict father.  In that respect this almost has a coming of age feel as we follow Li Lin on her journey and watch her develop not only her powers but her confidence in her own abilities.  As the story gathers we learn more of Li Lin and her family circumstances which help to give her a very rounded feel although there are no info dumps, just steady development.

There is plenty of action and the story has almost a Ghibli feel to it.  Fantastic monsters coupled with kung fu and Chinese gangsters plus fast pacing that have you jumping from one incredible dilemma to the next.

I don’t know how true to the period this is or how correct the terminology but it certainly reads well and feels as though the author has researched this well.  It sort of put me a little in mind of the Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo although this story I felt had more action and more detail in terms of the spirit world.

In terms of criticisms.  I didn’t really have anything to be honest.  There was the odd occasion where the dialogue felt a little forced and i had the odd occasion of frustration with some of the limitations that Li Lin faced but frankly, given the era, it would have been unrealistic if Li Lin didn’t face such barriers.

To conclude, I really enjoyed this.  It’s a fast paced and wonderfully fantastic tale with monsters and spirits, a great main character, evil baddies and friends where you least expect them with an excellent and dramatic ending.  Although I’m trying desperately to avoid spoilers I simply have to mention Mr Yanqiu – he’s one of the best sidekicks I can ever remember reading about.

I have no hesitation in recommending.  If you enjoy fantasy, myth, folklore, incredible monsters, spirits, excitement and kung fu then what you waiting for!  Go and grab a copy and prepare to be thoroughly entertained.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers.  The above is my own opinion.