Two thumbs up for Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China that Never Was by Barry Hughart. Fantasy.
I was (am) reading a beautiful but very sad book, so I picked up Bridge of Birds, long lingering on my TBR list. Good heavens, why did I wait? Bridge of Birds is a picaresque fantasy of chaotic event, genuine heart, satisfying plot development, and many laugh-out-loud moments. Think Holmes and Watson meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Terry Pratchett. It brought me great joy. It might bring you joy, too. Get a copy and save it for a bad day. (And, best of all – there are two more in the series! Which I’ve just ordered, increasing my TBR pile, not shrinking it.)
It was obvious that was obvious that Henpecked Ho’s warning had been correct, and that the funeral of Fainting Maid had been attacked by demons. Only an immediate exorcism could save the lives of one and all, and Henpecked Ho was nothing less than magnificent as he led the Grand Master Wizard and the forty-nine assistants—who had fortuitously arrived with the hooded monks—and soon the cemetery was shrouded by rolling clouds of incense. Henpecked Ho bravely waved the banners that represented the five directions of Heaven, while wizards who wore cosmological mantles and seven-starred tiaras sprayed the graves with holy water. Drums nearly deafened us as Ho and the wizards grappled with invisible demons, swinging peachwood whips and swords that were engraved with the Eight Diagrams and the Nine Heavenly Spheres. They stuffed the nasty demons into Jars and bottles, which were stoppered and sealed and stamped with closure decrees that forbade them to be opened throughout all eternity.
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