Trouble is brewing in the province of Ling-xiu when the murder of an elderly queen sends young Princess Bingsong into exile at a forgotten mountain villa. When a series of hauntings begins and she finds her father’s old diary, Bingsong, her handsome bodyguard Azuma, the villa’s mysterious steward LimTamm, and teenage servant girls Peitho and Lysithe are drawn into a 400 year old murder mystery hinted at by a string of small nightingale paintings. Bingsong’s struggle against an arranged marriage merges with the sinister history of the villa, the site of a massacre spurred by the rivalry between two temple acolytes. As corrupt security forces led by the province’s head magician Kimon are poised to take over the capital and eliminate Bingsong’s puppet king father, Kimon awakens an ancient evil in his quest to find the ruins of the drowned palace of Zu-bai, once the home of the world’s most powerful magician. As the epic battle between the spirits on the mountain is set to span two provinces, Bingsong and her friends must delve into the ancient history of the neighboring province of Zu-dang in order to lay to rest the grudges of the past.
Not gonna lie, there was a lot going on in this book. most of it did end up flowing together very well, but at the same time maybe there was a bit too much? I’m all for action- or detail-packed storylines, I usually even prefer them over the simpler contemporary storylines, but this one had a bit more than I would’ve liked.
That is not to say that the story is bad, however. I am a big fan of Asian culture, art, and influences (my dream as a kid was to spend time in China and Japan) so I highly enjoyed those influences in this book. The writing was also beautiful, even if it did take me a while to read through everything because the print was a bit smaller than usual. But Once I adjusted to that, everything was great.
I’d say this book is great for people looking for a bit of fantasy, magic, and Asian influence all together in one. It’s not a book that everyone will love, but it is wonderfully crafted either way.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.