Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: September 14, 2013

In this mesmerizing new novel, Mingmei Yip draws readers deeper into the exotic world of 1930s Shanghai first explored in Skeleton Women, and into the lives of the unforgettable Camilla, Shadow, and Rainbow Chang. When Shadow, a gifted, ambitious magician, competed with the beautiful Camilla for the affections of organized crime leader Master Lung, she almost lost everything. Hiding out in Hong Kong, performing in a run-down circus, Shadow has no idea that Camilla, too, is on the run with her lover, Jinying--Lung's son. Yet while Camilla and Shadow were once enemies, now their only hope of freedom lies in joining forces to eliminate the ruthless Big Brother Wang. Despite the danger, Shadow, Camilla, and Jinying return to Shanghai. Camilla also has her own secret agenda--she has heard a rumor that her son is alive. And in a city teeming with spies and rivals--including the vengeful Rainbow Chang--each battles for a future in a country on the verge of monumental change.

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I'll be the first to admit I was a little intimidated by Mingmei Yip's The Nine Fold Heaven. I'm not overly familiar with the 1930s nor Chinese culture, so I wasn't sure how I would feel about a story set in pre-revolutionary Shanghai. 

Ultimately though, my concern was ill-placed. Yip does a wonderful job explaining the dark and dangerous world Camilla inhabits so her readers don't really need a lot of background information to enjoy her story. Personally I might have liked more detail with regards to the time period, but beyond that I have few complaints about the time I spent with this book. 

In particular, I liked the ethnic details worked into the story. The novel opens with Camilla visiting a temple in her effort to build a degree of positive karma before trying to find her son. They aren't always as noticeable, but these kind of details appear throughout the book and give it a very authentic feel without overwhelming Western readers who may be less familiar with life in the Far East. 

That being said, not every aspect of the book is as easy to accept. Camilla, for instance, is a difficult character to like. It took me a while to understand her, but in the end I realized this story wouldn't have worked if she were overly empathetic. She needed to be cold and detached on one hand and emotionally vulnerable on the other. Yip understood this and created a really nice contrast and balance between Camilla's background and personal motivations. Again, not easy for the readers, but essential for the story. 

Though written as a standalone I feel this book is best appreciated as a companion to Skeleton Women. It is not essential to read both, but there were times I felt at a disadvantage for not having read Yip's earlier work.

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Despite all the effort put into my training, love had somehow tiptoed into my life. Whether heaven's gift or punishment, I could not tell.
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Check out all the stops on Mingmei Yip's The Nine Fold Heaven Virtual book  Tour

Monday, September 16
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, September 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 18
Review at Must Read Faster
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, September 19
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, September 20
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Monday, September 23
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Tuesday, September 24
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, September 26
Guest Post at HF Connection
Tuesday, October 1
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, October 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, October 4
Guest Post at History Undressed
Monday, October 7
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, October 11
Review at Silver’s Reviews

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful blog...going to follow.

Found you on the tour list.

I am on the tour as well and liked this book a lot. I didn't read her first book, but would I have enjoyed it more than I did if I had?

THANKS for your great review.

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