My review of Zhànshì: A Dark Retelling
Very dark Mulan retelling!
This one may have been a bit too dark for my tastes. I did like the story and the character development was good. I just wondered about a few things that seemed a bit off. For one, most of these Sinister Fairy Tales have been set in present times and this one stated it was a modern day retelling as well, but it still seemed very past tense.
The premise was a war between two factions of the Chinese Mafia in California, the Yu Shi Triad and the Jin Long. However, they used traditional Chinese weapons in the war, especially swords, knives and batons. Now what I know or have heard of modern Chinese Triads, is that they use guns nowadays just like other gangs or organized crime.
The premise is that the Yu Shi triad is more traditional and wants to keep things that way, but I still can’t see modern day people chopping off heads with Katana swords. I think if a bunch of people were in hand to hand combat with swords, knives and batons, someone would pull out a gun and start shooting people. But that is just my thought.
Despite the weaponry, Wang the evil warlord of the Jin Long faction was a really bad guy that treated women like they were only used for the men’s enjoyment. He was known to be cruel and degrading to women and there was more than one rape scene. Which I didn’t like, though I am aware that it happens in war.
The main story surrounded Lia and the fact that she wanted to honor her family by fighting. She knew she was different from the time she was young and felt that she was meant for more than just being a wife and mother. Her father trained her to fight from a young age and when the two factions were at war, the Yu Shi triad enacted the one male per family rule in which one male from every family had to fight. Lia’s father was the only male in their family and he would have died because he already had a prior injury which caused him to limp and need a cane. So she sneaks out and takes his sword and his place.
Lia falls for Jaxon who is one of the top men in the Yu Shi triad after being raised by Gaozu, the leader. Gaozu took Jaxon in as a young boy after his mother was killed. The romance between Lia and Jaxon is great. At first, he thinks she is a boy named Zhan who he is training to be a better fighter. Jaxon is surprised at how good the boy is and impressed with his willingness to do better. Overall I liked the book, there were just certain things I didn’t so I will give this a 3.5 star rating (rounded up to 4).
I voluntarily read & reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
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