An inexplicable horror becomes the reason for her will to live and now, enemies will fall.
G.A.M. Morris brings to life an adventure of legendary proportions. Miao Shan: The Awakening details the journey of Chow Lei, a young girl who witnesses her family murdered by the Triad. Something blooms inside of her as the result of her trauma which fundamentally will transform, not only Chow Lei herself but also history.
Before I delve into the review aspect of this post, as usual, I’ll provide the synopsis of Miao Shan: The Awakening that is available on GoodReads:
When ten-year-old Chow Lei witnessed her parent’s brutal murder at the hands of Hong Kong Triad members she was emotionally scarred for life. Follow her journey to justice!
When ten-year-old Chow Lei witnessed her parent’s brutal murder at the hands of Hong Kong Triad members she was emotionally scarred for life. Her grandmother adopted her and attempted to help the child heal emotionally, but only when Chow Lei joined a Shaolin Kung Fu school did any emotional healing occur.
After a year of training, her grandmother reticently agreed to send her to the Shaolin Temple. Lei had continued to do prove at the Temple an aptitude for martial arts and a lack of compassion. At the Temple, she was renamed Miao-Shan, from a legend about the Chinese Buddhist Goddess of compassion, Guan Yin.
Once she had reached enlightenment she returned home to her grandmother, only to discover that she too had been brutally murdered by the Triads.
In her search for Justice against the Triads, she discovered that her soul was made of a shard of Guan Yin’s soul and a shard of Guan Yu’s, and that she was a new Bodhisattva (Living Goddess), of Justice!
Thoughts on the Narrative
I found Miao Shan to be refreshing in the sense that it wove together historical fiction with that of fantasy and adventure quite seamlessly. It is told from the perspective of Lei through third-person, present tense – which took me some getting used to, only because I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like that before. But it did not deter me from enjoying the story – it was quite an awesome read in the sense that the author took extreme care to ensure that the reader was able to immerse themselves within this world.
And what a world it is.
Taking place in early 1990s China, Morris ensures that we, as the readers, are given enough historical context to understand the world Lei lives in. Not only is this done throughout the novel itself, Morris excellently includes a concise and detailed summary of major historical events that is occurring, or had occurred, in order for the reader’s understanding. It helped me formulate a deeper meaning as to Lei’s experience and thus, her story.
The narrative itself is intriguing. I won’t summarise, not spoil the novel, but the story can be quite slow as it is one about the journey of Lei/Miao Shan. Though is the constant underlying thread of violence woven within the narrative, for obvious reasons, there is a focus on the personal development of Lei herself through her training with the Kung Fu Master and eventually, at the Shaolin Temple. She learns various fundamental moral and ethical lessons which in turn, shape who she becomes.
The writing, as a result, is quite clear and simple. At times, too simple – but for the purpose of this novel, it works. Though there are elements of the fantastical, it is done so in a way that makes it truly believable and does not at all delve into the ‘truly unbelievable’ territory that some novels can dip their toes into.
Characters and Criticisms
Chow Lei/Miao Shan is a very well-thought out character and I adore the attention and time that the author took to ensure her character grows as the story itself, grows. However, the one aspect of Lei’s character that hindered my ability to really connect with her and her story to the extent that I wished it to be, was that I found her quite blank at times. I mean to say that, though I completely understand that the witnessing of the murder of your own family would forever be a trauma that would be a constant ache within your own very being; I found that Lei’s obsession with vengeance emotionally lacking. Vengeance swallows up any sort of other emotion, which I understand could be a coping mechanism to process the trauma, but Lei instead just seems to be quite emotionless and shallow as a character. I found that I could not emotionally connect with her as a result of her two-dimensional characterisation – and I hoped that the focus on her self-journey would change that, and it did somewhat, but I still found her lacking somewhat. A woman can be strong and powerful and still be able to cry – it doesn’t make her weak to feel.
Overall, a great work of historical fiction that weaves the fantastical within it quite beautifully. Although, I did not fully connect with the characters, and with Lei herself, it cannot detract the fact that the narrative itself was a premise that is extremely original and wonderful and a re-interpretation of the Legend of Princess Miaoshan. I give Miao Shan: The Awakening a 3.5 out of 5 stars and I will be looking forward to G.A.M. Morris’ future works within this series.
That’s it for today, friends! Until next time, happy reading!
Miao Shan: The Awakening will be on sale at the following online stores :
The e-book price will be US$2.99 on Amazon, and $3.49 elsewhere (due to different rates I am charged), and the paperback will be $12.42 (only available on Amazon). My intention is to increase the price should the book become popular. I severely reduced the price so as not to discourage purchasers in the beginning.
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NOTE: I was given this novel by the author in exchange for an honest and un-biased review. Thank you to G.A.M. Morris for the opportunity and honour in reading Miao Shan!