No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.
But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn’t only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.
Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.
It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.
I found this novel to be extremely plot driven and lacking the character development that is necessary to make a story truly excellent. Silver Phoenix does deliver on interesting mythology that I was not familiar with prior to reading the novel and it does borrow liberally from the rich Chinese legends to construct the narrative. I wish we could have gone at a slower pace and learned more about Ai Ling and Silver Phoenix. The reincarnation angle is not a new one but it was barely touched upon in the novel. I wish the author had spent a bit more time going into the details of the actual reincarnation stuff.
Complaints aside, the novel is still readable as Ai Ling as an extremely likable character. The thing is, used as I am to reading books in the perspective of North American young adults, you get used to the confidence and self-assertion that seems to characterize them. This is not to imply that Ai Ling is a weak heroine because she is anything but she reads as a whole lot more innocently than I would have expected.
I wonder how difficult it is to write a main character who thinks differently than the usual one. Anyway, the romance in here was complicated. There was a triangle but one angle was missing. The other triangle that was in the middle of coalescing fizzled out when one of its angles was removed unexpectedly. I really liked the ending though. Pon thrusts Ai Ling into the spotlight and she carries the show all on her own. It was fun.
I liked the novel but I did not love it. So read at your own risk