Hello my pandas! Today I’m going to be reviewing my fifth book for the #Asian Lit Bingo Challenge: Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon! I used this for the SFF with an Asian MC space, and I’m going to give it a 7.5 star rating.
As usual, thanks Goodreads! No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters. 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.
Honestly, I enjoyed this book. It was a fast read, and there was nothing really wrong with it. The pacing worked, there were a lot of interesting fantasy elements, and I liked the characters. It just…felt a bit unmemorable for some reason. It was a bit too similar to Pon’s other series, the Serpentine series. Other than that though, there’s not much to complain about.
Ai Ling is a strong female character who goes around saving people’s lives and apparently sleeps a lot? For such a short read, there were an unreasonably large number of times where something like, “And then she drifted off to sleep,” was said. Additionally, I didn’t quite get the whole Silver Phoenix thing and wished it was explained a bit more clearly. Despite this, I enjoyed reading about Ai Ling and her adventures. (Pssst fans of Rhys and Feyre. I think you’ll like Ai Ling’s powers. Just saying.) Chen Song was also a typical swoonworthy guy: loyal and willing to trust in our heroine. He and Ai Ling had a super sloooooow burn, but I’m hoping something will develop in the next book regarding that.
Fortunately, the romance was the only that was paced slowly; the action advanced quite well, with a mix of action and quiet moments blending together nicely. The world building was also enjoyable, especially since I love reading books set in an Ancient China setting. Finally, the writing was pretty straightforward, which again contributed to making this a fast read.
All in all, I’d recommend this book to you if you’re looking for a fast fantasy read set in Ancient China, especially if you love slow burn type romance. Tomorrow on the blog, I take a break from #AsianLitBingo reviews and review a really anticipated ARC: Ramona Blue!