I received an ARC of this book for an honest review from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Goodreads Synopsis : It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring great shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.
When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.
With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.
Li-Lin ,Daoshist of the second ordination , daughter to an exorcist is a widow at at 20. She is still mourning the death of her husband when she is asked to deliver a spirit passport to a ghost in the spirit realm.
She soon realises that this was a trap meant to turn her into an instument for the sole purpose of destroying her father.
Li-lin is however not going down without a fight. She will need her wits and her martial arts trainiit complimented by Chinese magic if she is to defeat an evil the likes of which had not been seen for generations.
I liked that only enough detail necessary to understand different terms and the magic system was used. This prevented the story from being bogged down with too much mindless detailing and ponderous world building.
The author gives a real feel of what it must be like for a widowed 20 year old Chinese immigrant. She is a victim of misogyny and racism and is constantly under-estimated and devalued. She not only has to consider how her actions will affect her but also the loss of ‘face’ to her father.
I really liked Li-Lin’s character. She finds herself between ‘a rock and a hard place’ and instead of choosing to walk away even when she thought she didn’t stand a chance, she did whatever she could,( even allowing ‘monsters’ to help her), for the benefit of the greater good . She did this at the risk of losing what little respect her father has for her and an uncertain future for herself.
The “monsters’ are brought to life through the author’s attention to detail and one is able to clearly form a picture of what they look like. Pretty soon, we come to realise that not all monsters are monstrous after all.
There is no shortage of action and we get to ‘see’ Li-Lin display her martial arts traing in fight scenes which were very vivid and easy to imagine. These scenes had just the right amount of details and were not too drawn out and unrealistic.
I had a hard time putting this book down and read it in a few hours. The action-packed scenes were very much appreciated by this reader.
This was a fairly clean read making it suitable for younger readers. Lovers of fantasy, Asian Folklore, martial-arts, headstrong heroines, and action-packed novels would enjoy this.