I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I saw that this novel took place in Ancient China, and that grabbed my attention right away. I love books that take place in different historical settings, especially ones I’m unfamiliar with, as it gives me the chance to learn something new. I’m also a huge fan of historical Asian dramas so I love reading books that take me back to a previous era! I was a little hesitant when I found out that this was a translated work but I felt that the essence of the story would be able to come through. Here is my review:
Summary (Goodreads): In ancient China, history, vengeance, and murder collide for a female sleuth.
At thirteen, investigative prodigy Huang Zixia had already proved herself by aiding her father in solving confounding crimes. At seventeen, she’s on the run, accused of murdering her family to escape an arranged marriage. Driven by a single-minded pursuit, she must use her skills to unmask the real killer…and clear her name.
But when Huang Zixia seeks the help of Li Shubai, the Prince of Kui, her life and freedom are bargained: agree to go undercover as his eunuch to stop a serial killer and to undo a curse that threatens to destroy the Prince’s life.
Huang Zixia’s skills are soon tested when Li Shubai’s betrothed vanishes. With a distinctively exquisite golden hairpin as her only clue, Huang Zixia investigates—and discovers that she isn’t the only one in the guarded kingdom with a dangerous secret.
Review: This is a story that delivers what it promises: a strong female character with a penchant for getting into difficult situations. This wasn’t a perfect book but it had many positives to it.
I really liked this story. It had a great blend of history with mystery. Huang Zixia is certainly a smart heroine, and I felt that her personality shone through even as it was restrained by her cultural setting. I loved how much detail was given to the historical backdrop of the story as it gave me a glimpse of what life might have been like in Ancient China (albeit with some liberties taken for the sake of making this an exciting tale)! I found myself really enjoying the way the story unfolded, with all of the different clues coming together. There were times when I found it a little confusing to keep track of all of the characters and their relationships, but that was to be expected when many of the characters had similar surnames.
My one qualm with this novel was the language. Now, I don’t know if this is a criticism to be aimed at the writer or the translator, but the language of the novel seemed at times to be at odds with the historical setting of the book. Many of the phrases used in this book were too modern to work, and it really took away from the story.
Overall, I think this was an interesting story with a great blend of history and mystery. I only wish that the language of the novel had been more fitting for the setting of the story. I really liked the characters and the flow of the story. I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction and mystery, and I’m giving this a 3/5 stars!