Matt Heppe's Reviews > Silver Phoenix

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy

Silver Phoenix is the story of Ai Ling, a strong, independent young woman who leaves her home to both escape an unwanted marriage and to find her missing father. A fantasy in a world based on ancient China, Silver Phoenix is filled with adventure, strange creatures, and great characters. Ai Ling is joined on her adventure by a pair of brothers, the strong, serious Chen Yong and his love-crazed younger brother, Li Rong. I found the three characters to be well-written and distinct individuals.

World building: Unlike most of the fantasy novels I’ve read, Silver Phoenix has an Asian setting. It was a refreshing change from your typical pseudo-European world. It was a great to see characters confronted by new and unique gods, demons, and monsters instead of the standard orcs, elves, and ogres (or variants thereof). I loved the author’s world-building efforts; her descriptions of architecture, food, clothing, and the environment made the world come alive.

Engagement: A very engaging novel, Silver Phoenix definitely keeps the action rolling. It is fast-paced and tightly written. My only serious complaints would be with the rapidity with which Ai Ling’s powers developed and the presence of an overly helpful magic item. Other than that, I found myself engrossed in both the story and the world the author created.

Writing: The author writes very clear, straightforward prose. I enjoyed her style. Silver Phoenix reads like a blend of historical fiction, fairy tale, and fantasy. Having said that, my knowledge of ancient Chinese history is pretty sketchy and the author has clearly stated that Xia is only based on Chinese culture and folklore - it is not supposed to strictly represent China at any particular time period. The novel was, in every way, professionally written.

Impact: Although classified as a young adult novel, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel from an adult perspective. While aimed at a YA audience, some scenes felt very grown up. A few times I felt myself wondering if it was a serious fantasy or a lighter fairy tale. However, these were minor distractions. I loved the characters, there was a lot of action, tension was high throughout, and the world building was outstanding. As soon as I finished Silver Phoenix I immediately downloaded Fury of the Phoenix.
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