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The Girl with Ghost Eyes

(The Daoshi Chronicles #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,624 ratings  ·  656 reviews
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Talos
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Glenn Everett I would definitely read this to my two kids. They have seen worse on television and would understand the content. I have boys, but find the female pro…moreI would definitely read this to my two kids. They have seen worse on television and would understand the content. I have boys, but find the female protagonist a powerful role model. I would, however, read it with them so that some of the more mature subject matter could be discussed and explained.(less)
Melanti If you like the spirit realm and burning offerings, etc, you might like The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo.

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart uses a numbe…more
If you like the spirit realm and burning offerings, etc, you might like The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo.

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart uses a number of Chinese folktales as his inspiration - in particular the Bridge of Magpies mentioned in this book.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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C.T. Stern
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing

The Girl with Ghost Eyes is such a cool novel! It invents a whole new genre, a blend of kung fu, Daoist magic, crazy monsters, tong wars, immigrant narrative, female empowerment, spiritual journey, and social realism.

I googled to see what things look like.

19th-c Chinatown:

Yellow paper talismans:

Peachwood sword:


An above average first book, with lots to like for urban fantasy fans and people who enjoy time period fantasies. It reminds me of Maxine Hong Kingston crossed with Snake Agent.

A young widowed woman, Xian Li-lin, with ‘ghost eyes,’ is living in 1898 in San Francisco with her emotionally distant father. They are priest and priestess in the Maoshan tradition: “we are ghost hunters, spirit mediums, and exorcists. When creatures out of nightmare trouble Chinatown, people come to the Maoshan for prot
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like historical fiction and you enjoy a good, well written fantasy then this is definitely the book for you. Set in Chinatown, San Francisco in 1898, the story shows much of the way of life of Chinese immigrants at that time as they struggled to maintain their cultural beliefs and customs and yet still adapt to their new home.
That's the historical fiction aspect and it is very well done. As for fantasy, the author uses for his main character a very strong, feisty Chinese girl. Li-Lin is t
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
And to think I almost missed this one. Normally Book Bub is a hit or miss (they're terrible when it comes to offering more diverse reads and I know for a fact that there are a LOT of great books with lead characters of color just waiting for a chance to be discovered), but somehow this ended up as an offering and I'm so glad I grabbed it. Needless to say, this would make a killer Netflix series. Strong Asian heroine, a sense of the lives of Chinese immigrants in turn of the century San Francisco ...more
Nov 22, 2015 marked it as dnf
DNF at 23%

No one really likes slow-paced stories. But with this one, everything happened so fast that at the end of the first chapter I was like

The second chapter

The third chapter

You see where I'm going with this?

I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy such pace but me no. From the start I need at least a little background story, some set up, maybe even a little filler to understand the character, so I can care for him/her. but in this case, all sorts of shit were happening to Li-lin and I was all

Brilliantly written, endlessly fascinating story about Japanese-American people who deal with the spirit world on a daily basis. Adorable characters (Yes, especially the eye!), and a well written plot, drive this novel straight through to the end. I adored every second of it, and I hated for it to end. I cheered for the good guys, and reveled in the endlessly wondrous worlds they traveled. Definitely highly recommended...!!

5 stars, and please read this soon!

3 years later and this is still
Linda Robinson
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"My name is Xian Li-lin...and I am a Maoshan Nu Daoshi of the Second Ordination." Li-lin is also a grieving widow, a devoted and obedient daughter. She has yin eyes. She can see ghosts and must hide her ability in order to continue being an obedient daughter. No nasty magic allowed. Although the Maoshan tradition is keeping malevolent spirits away, actually seeing ghosts is unacceptable, so Li-lin is trapped straightaway in an impossible situation, set in an insoluble conflict with unfathomable ...more
Sierra Chandler
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Characters like Li Lin do not come around every day, and rarely are they part of a non-anglo culture. She is an exceptional protagonist in a novel full of interesting and exciting characters. As much as I like her as a character, I like that the author gave her plenty of opportunities to fail. This is not a story where things go smoothly and plans are carried out with ease. And so we see our protagonist fail when we expect a victory, and succeed when we thought all hope was lost. I recommend thi ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, action packed read. Strong female character.
Serena W. Sorrell

I just loved this book.

It was so well-researched and embedded with culture from many sources. So, first of all, hats off to the amazing work that must have gone into crafting such a well put together story while respecting the culture whence it came.

The story's gist, while not revolutionary, brought a few new twists and kicks to the "character can see human world and spirit world" that I'm used to, which was greatly appreciated. The characters themselves were wonderful. So fully-formed and
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: november-2015
“In San Francisco during the late 1800s, a young Chinese widow tries to keep her father alive, and win a place in his heart she doesn’t realize she already owns. This story is filled with wonderful detail from Chinese folklore and mythology, and plenty of action as two tongs battle to control Chinatown. The very best fantasy employs strong characters who are real people with real problems. I enjoyed every page.”

Janet Martin, Southern Pines Public Library, Southern Pines, NC
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5/5 stars
The things I liked:
*The cultural/folktale aspects of the book.

*Mr. Yanqiu – because he is a rad little eyeball.

*The spirits. Especially Mr. Yanqiu and the cat.

*Bok Choy- because he is an unpredictable character.

Not so much:
*The monotony of the story. After a while the story fell into a boring rhythm of fight, look for solutions, fail in obtaining/getting solutions, fight some more. At first this was exciting, but by the end I was eagerly waiting for the story to wrap-up.

*Certain aspe
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
October 2019 re read.
Finally! The second book has arrived and so time for a reread of this first. The main character is brilliant! She is a woman in The Chinese community of San Francisco during the gold rush. She has kick-ass Kung fu skills and can see spirits but, as a woman has virtually no rights or worth of her own. She is accompanied through the story by some really fun spirit characters. Fabulous and unique read.

April 2016
Fantastic, fast-paced, original and fun!
Chris Berko
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If John Carpenter ever made a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China and it starred Egg Shen's granddaughter AND that movie was made in novel form, this would be that novel. Great big gobs of fun are to be had upon reading this book. ...more
K.T. Katzmann
You don't see many kung-fu wizard mediums with feelings of inadequacy, y'know?

Xian Li-lin is a Taoist priestess in 19th century San Fransisco, and the world constantly reminds her that she sucks. She may save her father from assassins, but he upbraids her for interrupting him. Xian can see spirits, but that's really embarrassing for a family, so she pretends it went away. She meets awesome nonhuman allies, but her father scolds her, reinforcing that a Taoist can't hang with anything awesome and
Em Lost In Books
Dec 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, 2010-19, 3-star
This one started really good and but just a drag in the mid-section.

Li-Lin was requested to go to spirit world to deliver a passport as a favor to her deceased husband's friend, Tom Wong. Once in spirit world she realized that she has been betrayed and this was all a plan to trap her soul there and use her body to kill her father. But after some help she managed to get back to Chinatown. As the story progressed, the plot turns out to be war between two leading gangs of Chinatown. While Li's fath
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This might be my favorite book this year so far; I couldn't put it down! I loved the strong female MC but most of all, this definitely scratched my ever-present historical fiction itch. I mean, there are a lot of fantastic elements but the historically-sourced descriptions of Daoist rituals and such are engaging and I seem to find myself again entranced by Chinese history and culture. I love all of the descriptions of different kinds of spirits--they played out in my mind like a Spirited Away-es ...more
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a four and a half/five star read for me. It contains a lot of things I enjoy: a well written female protagonist, history, folklore, kung-fu. There was plenty of action to keep the pace up and I liked that the characters were well rounded. (Even the main big bad in this, well we are given some motivation for their actions--they could have very easily fallen into the mustache twirling type of villain, but I feel like that was narrowly avoided, yay). Really looking forward to reading more ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of atypical magical fantasy
Recommended to Eric by: Nicole Evans
Shelves: book-club, fantasy
I really enjoyed this mystical tale of a Daoist exorcist's daughter in late 1800s San Francisco. There were a lot of fantastical elements, but the story interwove them well, so it never felt unbelievable.

There were many interesting characters, including protagonist Li-lin, with the gift/curse of ghost eyes, and many of the supporting cast. Her relationship with her father was particularly interesting, as was her relationship with his severed eyeball, which became the spirit known as Mr. Yanqiu.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this one. Li-Lin can see demons and otherworldly creatures. Her father thought he cured her of this dread condition, but she lied to make him feel better. When an evil man traps her spirit outside of her body, hoping to find a demon to inhabit it and kill her father, she foils the trap but things go downhill from there. The world building was stellar and the character development was so detailed it felt like these people lived next door although their alternate history Chinatown world is ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
wonderfully done and paced, managed to illuminate quite few concepts that usually would take several wiki pages to explain. loved the historical aspect and also how chauvinism pervaded but also how the wild west managed to start to change much of that .
Lynn Williams
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Girl with Ghost Eyes was such a great read that I simply have to start this review by saying go and give it a whirl.

The story is set in the late 1800s in San Francisco’s Chinatown and brings to us a compelling story with a wonderful protagonist. Li Lin is a Daoist priestess, daughter to a powerful exorcist who protects the neighbourhood from harmful spirits. Unfortunately Li Lin’s father has enemies who will go to great lengths to harm him and increase
Tess Burton
"Maoshan isn't like other traditions. We are ghost hunters, spirit mediums, and exorcists. When creatures out of nightmare trouble Chinatown, people come to the Maoshan for protection. With paper talismans we drive away the spirits, with magic gourds we imprison them, with peachwood swords we destroy them. People fear those who live at the border of the spirit world. They say a hold of death taints us. They might be right."
This book was everything I didn't know I wanted; a proper little gem
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sabriel meets High Noon in 1898 Chinatown. With kung fu! And a rag tag team! And the five point death touch! I spent much of the book imagining a Studio Ghibli adaptation. If the Taoist spirits are merciful, this will be a continuing series.
Maybe it's just me? This is one of those times where I look at the reviews after I've read a book and feel like I read something very different from everyone else. I'll try to pin down my feelings as succinctly as possible.

On the plus side this book is full of accurately portrayed mythology (Daoist & Buddhist) and culture (Chinese & Chinese American) that is going to be new to a lot of people. It's great to see this being represented so well in an urban fantasy. On the flip side of that, this bo
Lauren Stoolfire
I've had my eyes on this for quite a while now, so I was very excited to see that Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge gave me another reason to read it. And, I'm so glad I did! I think that The Girl With Ghost Eyes is going to go down as one of my favorite reads of 2017, in fact. I found myself completely hooked and engrossed by Li-Lin's San Francisco. If you're a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Spirited Away, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I have a feeling that you will l ...more
Agnieszka "Aeth" Jędrzejczyk
Can I give it a 6 stars rating? Or 7? Can I? Please? Because, really, anything less than 10 would not do "The Girl with Ghost Eyes" justice. It's an amazing, wonderful, brilliant and up-lifting story with breathtaking imagery reminiscent of Ghibli movies (most specifically "Spirited Away"), immersed in a culture that is, to me, foreign, exotic, and at the same time strangely familiar, and told through the eyes of such an iron-willed young woman, so unyielding and undefeated despite every and any ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to find good western fantasy that's based on Chinese mythology and religion. Wuxia (martial hero) tales seem popular in film, so it surprises me a little bit. I love reading Chinese fiction because the morals of the hero's can be vastly different then what you might find in western fantasy. Not to say that one is better then the other, it's just very interesting. To top it off this book features a female protagonist which adds another layer of contrast. The author does a great job with ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable read.
-The Chinese folklore and magic was really interesting and refreshing to read about.
-The protagonist was likeable
-Short and sweet

-Nothing specific, it was just missing that little something that would make it 5 stars

Final Thoughts:
I hope there is a sequel as I'd love to delve back into this world and I'm definitely going to search for some similar books.
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When M.H. Boroson was nine years old, a Chinese American friend invited him to dinner with his family. Over a big, raucous meal, his friend's uncle told a story about a beautiful fox woman. She had a magic pearl and she stole men's energy.

Boroson wanted to learn more about this fox woman, so he went to the library. They had Greek, Norse, and Arthurian mythology. They had vampires, witches, werewol

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