Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Title: Skeleton Women
Author: Mingmei Yip
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Pub. Date: May 25th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

An orphan, lead character Camilla was brought up & trained to be a spy by a gang, mastering strategies & skills (such as knife throwing, singing, & contortions) that make her a skeleton woman, or a Chinese femme fatale. Gang leader Big Brother Wang secures her a place in the 1930's nightlife scene of Shanghai as a lounge singer of great esteem. But all of this loveliness is only to gain the attention of rival gang leader, Master Lung. She must climb the fragile ladder to become his number one- and then destroy him, lest Big Brother Wang destroy her. Walking on glass shards, Camilla grows suspicious of two other "skeleton women". One is named Rainbow, who as a journalist makes or breaks a reputation with the stroke of a pen. The other is named Shadow, a magician as mysterious as her name who threatens Camilla as the number one show in Shanghai. All of this is thrust into further complication when the emotionless to-be assassin starts to feel for Master Lung's own son. But in her life of deception, masks, & strategy- Can she walk away from this feud with her life?

This book is mesmerizing. I can think of no better word for it.

Before even cracking it open, this book is beautiful. The cover is bright & striking, it would definitely catch my eye upon a shelf.

The novel itself is written beautifully. It's poetic & vivid, reading almost like a song. The use of Chinese sayings & proverbs, as well as quotes from other books, make frequent appearances. It adds a nice sprinkling of culture to the intriguing story. No sentence is superfluous- each & every word serves a purpose, making the story more engrossing. There is never a dull moment, & I found myself often exclaiming "What?!?" to myself, in the best of ways. I was kept on my toes until I ran out of pages, & even now I hunger for more of Camilla's story. This story is a perfect balance of sex, espionage, drama, & suspense. The characters are very relatable, & I adore the fact that this plot is headed by powerful women. It's a very welcome change from my usual reads. Plus, this edition comes with a reading group guide, perfect for those reader's looking to spark conversation at their book club.

In short, I found this book just as dazzling as Shadow's magic act. I recommend it to no particular audience, but to anyone who loves a wonderfully written story. I have never read the work of Mingmei Yip before, but now that I've gotten a taste, Skeleton Women will not be the last book of hers that I consume


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