Thursday, October 29, 2009

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

About the Book
On the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--Ai Ling discovers a power welling deep within her. she can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.

Ai Ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. She must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. And then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. Here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.

Recently I wanted to find something different in fantasy. I have been reading lots of fantasy that is kind influenced by fairy tales and European culture. After experiencing Miyazaki's movies, I discovered that tales could be told in such a manner than I had never thought possible. The man really knows how to open your eyes to more than the good vs. evil plot we always see, and that there can be real beauty in the smallest details.

I started writing KIN for this very reason. I wanted to help add into that vein of literature, especially something Asian-influenced. I searched the Internet for more books that would fit into this fold, and I came across Silver Phoenix. From the moment I read about it on Cindy Pon's website, and checked out reviews elsewhere, I knew that I had to have this book. I found out the author would be at Comic Con last July so I did my best to fit it into my schedule to run to meet her and purchase the book in person (which I did). The author is very sweet and willing to listen to a struggling writer obsessed with fantasy.

Silver Phoenix is written as a young adult book, but for a bit warning, it does have some "adult" content. I admired how Pon didn't dumb the sex scenes down and that acted like it does have its place in the world (which it does) and without going over the top. She trusts her readers, and I believe that helps the readers trust the story. It is a necessary discussion for the story for a young woman about ready for marriage and not there for shock value by any means.
After rejecting the marriage, Ai Ling must travel to find her father who should have returned from the Palace o f Fragrant Dreams. Her father is being held captive by Zhong Ye who is an immortal that eats souls so that he may live. He desires Ai Ling because she is the reincarnation of his lost beloved, Silver Phoenix.
The "monsters" in this book are amazing, and I wanted more of them! They were so vivid and added tension to the story since you didn't know when they would decide to make an appearance. I own three Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manuals and am interested to see what type of challenges monsters can create for characters. The monsters helped bring life to the book, as well as to the Ai Ling's dilemma. Her whole world seemed very true to me, and the monsters did as well.
The characters are really strong, I could really feel the connections Ai Ling has to her family and her, Chen Yong and Li Rong. I loved the relationship that she developed with the two brothers as Ai Ling with the sense of ease that she feels with both of them. There is also a romance in the book and it doesn't come without its bumps in the road, but it is well worth the journey (that does continue into the next book Fury of the Phoenix).
I really enjoyed connecting with Ai Ling so much in this book because I felt like I was really on the journey with her, experiencing things as she did such as the different food that she eats. Food is a basic need and Cindy Pon didn't skimp over in delicious details with good reason! It was another way for us to connect not only with Ai Ling, but the setting.
After reading this book, I wanted more! The different fantastical Asian inpired setting, food, a budding romance, a magical ability, and a mystery... I recommend reading Silver Phoenix and running out to buy Fury of the Phoenix which continues on the story of Ai Ling (which I will post a review about).
4 Stars-- Really liked it!

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