I love the idea of a supernatural hell, a reckless and sassy main character, and a quest for justice. Shanghai Immortal is an entertaining fantasy debut which has a charming and wry main character. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Pawned by her mother to the King of Hell as a child, Lady Jing is half-vampire, half-hulijing fox-spirit and all sasshole. As the King’s ward, she has spent the past ninety years running errands, dodging the taunts of the spiteful hulijing courtiers, and trying to control her explosive temper – with varying levels of success.
So when Jing overhears the courtiers plotting to steal a priceless dragon pearl from the King, she seizes her chance to expose them, once and for all.
With the help of a gentle mortal tasked with setting up the Central Bank of Hell, Jing embarks on a wild chase for intel, first through Hell and then mortal Shanghai. But when her hijinks put the mortal in danger, she must decide which is more important: avenging her loss of face, or letting go of her half-empty approach to life for a chance to experience tenderness – and maybe even love.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
In Shanghai Immortal our main character, Jing truly shines. On the surface she’s reckless, does not care about flattery or the rules – in fact she kind of hates both – and is one to act first and think later. Jing never stands on ceremony and instead ends up in some extremely sticky and non-diplomatic situations. She can seem brash and her unwillingness to play diplomatic seems to rub people the wrong way. But when you get to know Jing you see the ways in which her actions are deeply impacted by her past.
The ways she felt unwanted, her being stuck between a vampire and fox spirit. She feels out of place and isolated. Jing feels stuck between two worlds and has difficulty fitting in. And, like many of us, has trouble seeing when people are truly on her side. She’s not one to trust quickly because of how badly she was treated in the past. Once you see it, your heart instantly melts for her. The utter cruelty. With this core, Shanghai Immortal delivers a story with high paced action, plenty of witty banter, and a level of humor.
It’s a story with some hilarious tropes, but also a core of emotion. Shanghai Immortal is a testament to seeing people around us who care about us and being able to chose who our past impacts our actions. We can be so convinces people will turn away from us at any chance, that we are merely a means to an end. It becomes impossible to trust what is genuine. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to dispel these misconceptions, to let people explain themselves, and to give ourselves second chances.