Thumbs up for Shanghai Immortal by A. Y. Chao. Historical fantasy.
A juvenile half-vampire, half-fox-spirit with lots of feelings and low impulse control is sent from Immortal Shanghai to 1930’s Mortal Shanghai on a mission, the reasons for which already escape me. I’m not sure I ever understood them, to be honest: this book is not strong on plot, but it does succeed as a fun character-driven coming-of-age story. There is, be warned, one inexplicable, distracting linguistic misstep (why is there a made-up swearword when there are also real swearwords?) which caused me repeated facepalming. And I am docking a whole star for the “if we’d just had an important conversation, this whole plot wouldn’t have happened” annoyance. If you can look past those relatively minor caveats, it’s a delight.
This early the streets are quiet, but the sun fills the space with a loud intensity that stabs through my eyes, straight to the back of my head. We’re heading to see the old woman at the Hokkein Market who sold the talisman to Mr Lee, but I’m not sure I can speak without vomiting. Maybe a drinking wager wasn’t my best idea. Ah Lang lounges on the small fold-out seat facing us as if he’s sitting on a throne; one arm casually draped across the back of the front seat. He’s far too cheerful. Gigi sits next to me, slumped in the caramel leather seat, her head leaning on the open window frame. She’s wrapped in a frothy dress, a pale lemon yellow confection with her usual long flowing sleeves. A pair of hastily purchased sunglasses perch on her paler-than-normal face. At least she looks worse than I feel, which makes me feel marginally less like rolling into the gutter and letting the roosters have me.
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