Dark Heavens #1
Book Length: 546pages
Time to Read: about a month of easy reading
Travel/Urban Fantasy mishmash
According to the Blurb on the Back:
Emma Donahoe has just started her new job as nanny to Simone, the daughter of John Chen, a very rich Hong Kong businessman. She understands that Simone may be a target for kidnappers but she does not expect to be drawn into a world of martial arts, magic and extreme danger, where both gods and demons can exist in the mortal domain.
When John and his American bodyguard, Leo, teaches Emma their particular style of martial arts, they begin to realise that Emma herself is more than she seems…
A bit about the author:
Kylie Chan has probably written about her life with this book, but through a lens of fantasy. Like the main character, she’s an Australian who fell in love with Chinese culture and a Chinese man. I strongly suspect some sections had been taken from her own diary while teaching English in Hong Kong. As an Australian who has often toyed with the idea of going to Asia to teach English, I found a lot to learn and love from this book. But now let’s take a more clinical look…
White Tiger is difficult to categorise. It could be most accurately described as travel fiction, or holiday fiction. It also almost reads like a children’s book – it’s linear, dialogue-dominant and very, very honest. This happened and then this happened and we-don’t-need-to-extrapolate-or-dissect-any-of-this-because-something-else-is-going-to-happen-next. As I’m writing this, I realise this description can sound negative but I really don’t mean it that way. The way Kylie Chan writes is actually seriously refreshing. Simple and straightforward also means uncomplicated and no-nonsense. It’s like she’s applied Occam’s Razor (a principle in science and philosophy that states “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”) to storytelling: there is nothing in this book that does not need to be there. No fluff. No background noise. No massive scene set-ups. Things that need explanation get explained, and we move on.
This doesn’t make it a short book mind you, and there are technically sub-plots, but everything is seen directly through Emma’s eyes as they happen to her. And the plot itself? Chinese urban fantasy from a westerner’s perspective who is actually authorised on the subject? ‘Easily engrossing’ is the best way I can describe it. I read the book over the course of a month and never lost my place in the story, even though I wasn’t reading it every day. Part travel book, part adventure, part fantasy, and easy to pick up where you left off. It’s kind of the perfect holiday book, actually.