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.
This fantasy adventure is set in a splendid and dangerous myth-filled world. The trouble is that the myths become reality and the monsters and creatures of traditional folktales take on lives of their own. Action, suspense, strong characters, swiftly-changing emotions and a world that seems set in either dreams or nightmares (perhaps a bit of both?) make this an exciting and engrossing read.
Okay, I’ll admit to first picking the book up solely for the cover. I kept reading it for the imaginative content. And I was ultimately satisfied by a story well told. The legends and creatures described within reminded me of pan-Asian folktales that my mother read aloud when I was a child (I called and asked if she remembered a specific book –she didn’t, but her best guess was Kipling’s Just So Stories) – filled with unexpected demons and tricks and dream worlds and flying dragons. Each time I thought I had the story ‘figured out’ the plot would twist and surprise me.
Recommended for: anyone who can appreciate wonders and marvels. It’s a lovely, artistic and unique read for anyone who wants an adventure and an escape. Enjoy!