The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, published by Indigo on 6th November 2014
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....
JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....
MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I hadn't heard much about it before it fell into my hands and I wasn't sure which genre it fit into but I loved the fusion of historical fiction and fantasy. This was mixed with a thrilling plot which takes the reader on an amazing journey featuring brilliant characters who fight against the odds to achieve freedom and independence. It's always wonderful when you find a book which you know little about but ends up surpassing your expectations!
The story is inspired by the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong which is a world of extreme lawlessness. Danger lurks around every corner and if you don't have your wits about you and your instincts for survival honed then you won't last. I am a big fan of stories which take place in Asia as I find the culture absolutely fascinating, so this was right up my alley.
There are three distinct character viewpoints in the book: Jin Ling, who is searching for her sister; Dai, who is on a dangerous mission and Mei Yee, who is trapped in a world not of her choosing. Each chapter alternates between them until their individual situations begin to collide and come together. It would spoil it to tell you much about the plot as this is a book which is best read with little prior knowledge of what it is about. Needless to say though you won't be disappointed and at times you will literally be on the edge of your seat.
I loved the epilogue which tied everything together properly and which left me beautifully satisfied with the outcome.
I thought that Ryan Graudin's debut was a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read. Her writing is gloriously atmospheric and I was intrigued and captivated by the characters, their relationships and their journeys. I'm excited to see what subject she decides to write about next.