Friday, May 8, 2020

Review: The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

The Library of LegendsFrom the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel in which a convoy of student refugees travel across China, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan
 “Myths are the darkest and brightest incarnations of who we are . . .”

China, 1937. When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of students, faculty and staff must walk 1,000 miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the refugees who are at risk; Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure: a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.

The students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends creates unexpected bonds. Lian becomes friends and forms a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is arrested and another one is murdered, Lian realizes she must escape before a family secret puts her in danger too. Accompanied by Shao and his enigmatic maidservant, Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai in the hopes of reuniting with her mother.

During the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. This revelation comes with profound consequences, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits who embark on an exodus of their own, one that will change the country’s fate forever.
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published April 28th, 2020 
by HarperAvenue 
3/5 - I liked it
The Library of Legends has been on my radar for a while now. Canadian author Janie Chang is new to me, I've read great things about her previous book, Dragon Springs Road so I jumped at the chance to review this one. This book has already released in Canada and will be available in the US on Tuesday (the 12th).
The book was atmospheric, in that, I got a real sense of the social climate, the history and the era (that I knew nothing about previously), that being said I really wanted to know more about The Library of Legends itself, not that it was neglected but the history geek in me wanted to know more.
There was a YA feel here, most likely because the story centers around 3 university students who begin the 1000 mile walk as Japan evades China.  Based on fact I found that interesting.  The book concluded with some author notes that are always a treat (and a must) with an HF book.

My only pet peeve is that the blurb gives too much of story away, some things mentioned don’t happen until the 60% mark which to me is a major spoiler - hence why I love going into a book blind. At that point there wasn’t really an element of surprise, I already knew what was going to happen.
All in all an interesting story about a piece of history and area I rarely venture.
My thanks to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

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