Hardcover, 110 pages
Published August 2014 by Immersion Press
Julienne’s aunts are the archer who shot down the suns and the woman who lives on the moon. They teach her that there’s more to the city of her birth than meets the eye – that beneath the modern chrome and glass of Hong Kong there are demons, gods, and the seethe of ancient feuds. As a mortal Julienne is to give them wide berth, for unlike her divine aunts she is painfully vulnerable, and choice prey for any demon.
Until one day, she comes across a wounded, bleeding woman no one else can see, and is drawn into an old, old story of love, snake women, and the deathless monk who hunts them.
Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s novella Scale-Bright is set in Hong Kong and brings to life Asian mythology as is rarely seen in fiction I have read. I liked the novelty of the setting and I liked how Sriduangkaew presented the colourful characters that populated the novel. The tension is also kept high and the plot moves very swiftly, chasing one character and then moving to another.
I enjoyed Scale-Bright because it brings something different to the table: different sexualities, different ways of constructing gender and a different perspective from which to view the world. I did feel, however, that a little bit more setting more, a bit more of an introduction to the characters, world and mythology would have helped me root myself into the world. I also think that, perhaps, a better representation of males was needed in this book.
However, when all is said and done, I am excited to see a new author being given a chance to bring different, diverse stories to readers. Everyone has been talking about how we need diverse books and Benjanun Sriduangkaew delivers.