July 31, 2005

The Secrets of Jin-Shei by Alma Alexander

photo-realistic chinese girl and chinese-style painting of blossomsThird book I read for the Endeavour Award. This one was refreshing for being a stand-alone novel. It's set in a fictional land modelled on Imperial China. The story revolves around a number of women whose connection is the "jin-shei" of the title, a sort of formalized friendship bond.

I really enjoyed the book. The characters, while not all likable, were all interesting and had plausible and sympathetic arcs. The book covers nearly the entire lives of the different women with their various interlocking relationships. The magic in the book wasn't typical fantasy magic and was used consistently and responsibly (no "good thing I know the spell to save the day!" deus ex magica cop outs). My only quibble is that it could have been 100 pages shorter without sustaining too much harm. The overall effect is sort of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in Imperial China. Worth reading if that sounds at all appealing to you.

Posted by jeffy at July 31, 2005 04:34 PM