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.
Blurb from Goodreads.....
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I must admit it’s a bit outside my comfort zone and yet I enjoyed the cultural differences and exoticness of this tale. In fact I liked it more than I expected I would going into it. The story was rich in myth and captivating. There was action and excitement galore and the storyline was interesting and fun at the same time. Cindy Pon has created a fabulous world full of danger and action, with terribly creatures and wonderful characters.
I will say that I have liked a bit more back story on exactly the land of Xia. I feel like the setting of the book wasn’t explained all too well and because of this sometimes I felt lost as to just what this magical world really was and where everything was taking place. Other than that though I loved the world this story was set in.
I found Ai Ling to be a fantastic heroine to follow on her journey. She didn’t annoy me at all or wear on my nerves and throughout the course of the book I really did want the best for her. While she keeps all the personality traits of her heritage and culture, she’s also headstrong and brave, while being sweet and somewhat vulnerable too. It’s so nice seeing a main character that isn’t too out there, and one is very real in her insecurities and fears.
As for our love interest....Chen Yong was a very balanced young man. He had all the trademarks of a great hero--brave, fierce, but he was soft too. Serious and deadly when he needed to be also. It was easy to see he had strong emotions and feelings, although for the most part they were hidden behind his ability to be brave.
I have to say that I really dug the relationship between Ai Ling and Chen Yong! It wasn’t so in-your-face and right in front of your eyes throughout the novel, but rather an undercurrent that flowed through each page. The tension and passion is there between these two characters. I’m pretty sure they both feel it, and it’s so nice to read about a romance that doesn’t have to “be” from the very beginning. They’re friends, with all the hints of something more happening down the track and its great seeing them just enjoy one anothers company and build that foundation. That being said, I want these two to be together!
The journey the two of them went on throughout the story, the things they did, the evil they faced, even the hardships they went through (mainly a certain loss that I must say broke even my heart) all make the connection they have stronger. There’s a reason they’re drawn to each other, a reason why they feel the way they do, and I love that!
This exciting debut from start to finish, with a great group of characters and a plotline that is actually fun to read about. There’s an element of fantasy that saturates this book and ripples through each page and I cannot wait to read the next book.
Rating: **** stars
Did I Buy, Borrow or is it an ARC: Bought
Recommend Buy or Borrow: Buy
Ebook or Actual Book: Actual Book
Cover: It's nice. I like the way it focuses on the necklace
Read sequel/continue with series: Yes
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