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The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes (2015)

by M. H. Boroson

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San Francisco's Chinatown in the late nineteenth century is a place of contradiction; old world practices mix with American ideas. Immigrants from all over China mix together in their section of the city. Gangsters run Chinatown in an odd sort of order, using vices to raise money for good works. People work hard to survive in their new world, but a displaced people are followed by many ghosts. Some are harmful and some are not which leaves no shortage of work for the ghost hunters. Xian Li-lin is a Maoshan Daoshi and a killer of monsters. She was also born with a gift or a curse; she has the ability to see the spirit world. This puts her in a precarious position. As a ghost hunter, it is her duty to appease the spirits of the dead and destroy the spirits that are monsters. However, when a threat rises in Chinatown, she must quickly decide if she can bend those guiding rules in order to find the allies she needs to save her people. Fast-paced, intriguing, and exciting to the end, this tale of one girl’s journey will keep you turning pages far into the night!

Bettina P. / Marathon County Public Library
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  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
This is the first book in the Xian Li-lin series, at this point I am not sure when the next book in the series comes out (or if there will be one). I loved this urban fantasy style story and would love to read more books set in this world.

This story is set in end of 19th century San Francisco, mainly in Chinatown. I enjoyed the amazing world, background and the characters. There is a ton of Chinese history and culture in here and I loved learning about all the amazing supernatural aspects of Chinese history as well.

Xian is an interesting heroine with a unique perspective on things. She is a young widow who is desperate to salvage her family’s name after her husband’s death disgraced them. However, she still tries to be a dutiful daughter and support her father and Chinese traditions.

The topic of straddling two worlds; one of Ancient Chinese traditions and one of new American Ways added an interesting dynamic to the story. I also really enjoyed all the Chinese mythology and monsters throughout.

The story was very engaging and ended at a good place. I really enjoyed this story a ton and would love to see future stories featuring Xian Li-lin.

Overall an amazing read and one of the best urban fantasies I have read in a long time. I loved the setting and all the research that went into that. I also really enjoyed Xian Li-lin as a heroine, she was a very unique heroine. Additionally the late 1800’s San Fran setting was fun and interesting especially when paired with all the Chinese mythology. This book was very unique and very well done and I ended up loving it a lot. ( )
  krau0098 | Jul 9, 2017 |
Well-written and well-researched fantasy dealing with Chinese religious beliefs and changing social mores in San Francisco's Chinatown of the late 19th century. Also a gripping adventure with a delightful heroin. I rarely give five stars, but I think this one deserves it. ( )
  janisbeth | Jul 1, 2017 |
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/05/23/audiobook-review-the-girl-with-ghost-e...

The Girl with Ghost Eyes is a fun, fast paced story set in the late 1800s in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I found this to be a fresh and different setting and atmosphere. The protagonist, Li-lin, is a strong willed warrior who is fierce and devoted. She is a young widow with an over bearing father and struggles to find her place. Pride and shame are important emotions that drive her and others in this story. Li-lin is from an immigrant family who has established a rather interesting family business of exorcisms. Because, you know in a world inhabited with spirits, having people you can call to banish them is important. She also has the rare yin eyes that allow her to see the spirit world. All of these things make Li-lin different and interesting in so many ways. I sincerely enjoyed her character.

As this is based in a city, where the city’s culture and atmosphere play a critical role, this definitely had the feel of an urban fantasy. But it also featured some interesting tradition and folklore making it feel a nice blend of past and present. (Yes I know being placed in the late 1800s makes this entire story from historical, but there is still a blend of more ancient traditions and history with that of the late 1800s) Throw in plenty of martial arts action and the book has a whole lot going for it. The pace is quick and the story is easy to read and follow.

Now, for what I didn’t love about the book. Honestly, I do think the book is very well done. But I’ve said it a thousand times, I typically don’t do well with “weird”, and well, this book got a bit weird for me. Sometimes I feel silly with how I can find a line between made up magic, abilities, features I am willing to accept and those which ones cross the line, but I definitely seem to have a threshold and this one did surpass it a tad. The fantastical elements of this did cross that line at times, within the spirit world things would take different shapes/forms, which in general is fine, but extra legs and tails and such, for some reason I find harder to accept sometimes. Maybe that seems childish, its something I wish I didn’t have to admit, but its true. Also I guess spirit eyeballs go a little beyond it. And, while I point this out as something I personally struggled with a little, I did still enjoy the book! And I know many people do not have this problem. And keep in mind, this is still a 4 star review! So even with my hang ups of “weird”, this book is still well worth reading. For those without those hang ups, its probably a must read.

The only other weakness I could find in the book is probably more a nature of its length. There are areas that I felt could have been fleshed out a little more, but I also suspect there are more books to come, so it may be more a matter of waiting. Being curious about the characters and world in an ongoing series is always a good thing as it means there are plenty of reasons past the existing story keep reading.

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  tenaciousreader | Jul 25, 2016 |
I loved this book. If you are looking for a rare setting, fascinating mythology, and an engaging heroine, this is the book for you. Set in the early 1900s in San Fransisco's Chinatown, the story focuses on a young widow trained in the tradition of her father and husband. She has to save her father's life from attacks from the spirit world but still honor his wishes and remain true to her culture and training. She also has as a companion the ghost of her father's eyeball, a semi-helpful spirit cat, a Buddhist tiger spirit and help from thousands of pigeons. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  A.E.Wasp | Jun 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. H. Borosonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chapman, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noble, ClaudiaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 great shame to Li-lin and her father. When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer's ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground. With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young woman searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.… (more)

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