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Publisher's Summary

A young guy named Jack Hong hitchhikes throughout America following the keilin, a mystical unicorn out of Chinese mythology. The keilin leads him to 10 adventures with ghosts and other supernatural figures. These experiences reveal to him not only parts of American history he never knew but also his own identity and the role he will choose for his life.

©2018 William F. Wu (P)2018 William F. Wu

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • Powderly, KY, United States
  • 07-24-18

Liked the idea....

There were some interesting aspects to most of the stories, however, the narration was just sub-par, and I believe this kept the stories slow and found it difficult to relate to the character. As a general rule I like Chinese fantasy and art, however, the main character seemed so.....meh?! The history aspect to the stories needs to be told and this was the only part(s) I found interesting.

“I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Compelling Spiritual and Personal Journey

A Temple of Forgotten Spirits was originally published as a series of short stories between 1985 and 1993, but was always envisioned as a novel. This collection includes the entire story of Jack Hong, an aimless Chinese-American with little connection to his cultural heritage. In the first story, he has an encounter with a ghost (immediately establishing the supernatural thread throughout the stories) and then sees the keilin, a Chinese unicorn. According to legend, the keilin only appears at significant moments, so of course Jack is intrigued. He decides to follow the keilin, and in each subsequent story it leads him across the country to a supernatural encounter, a task to accomplish, and a greater understanding of Chinese-American history and/or his own identity.

Each of the stories could be read independently, but this is definitely a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Some stories are stronger than others, but there weren’t any I disliked, and I really enjoyed Jack’s character development during his quest-a quest which, intriguingly, feels both distinctly American and essentially Chinese.

I also really enjoyed the author’s notes, which appeared at the beginning of the book, after each story, and at the end. They increased my understanding of each story, and prompted me to research some of the historical events that inspired Jack’s experiences.

Anthony Lee gives a solid, straightforward reading of the stories. However, I would have preferred a stronger interpretation of the material, with a little more focus on tone, inflection, and narrator’s tools. The performance was perfectly fine, but I think there was room to do more with this book.

On the whole, I am very glad that I had the chance to experience this title, and I will be returning to these stories in the future.

I was given a free review copy of the audiobook, at my request, and am leaving this review voluntarily. All opinions expressed are my own.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

REALLY LIKED IT!!

This is a beautiful collection of stories from William Wu that I really enjoyed. It was different from titles I usually listen to, and appreciate the beauty in the stories. The author's comments about each story was also very helpful and insightful. Follow the adventures of a Chinese-American as he travels and meets all sorts of interesting things. Very neat book, really enjoyed the writing and narration :)
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting bassis in folklore

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by this author. I enjoyed the author’s notes after each short story. They added a level of interest, and insight into his intent behind the story. They improved my take on the stories since I felt the stories were average. The conclusion to the book tied all the stories together nicely. The main character lacked depth and I never came to feel for the guy. I don’t think it would have taken much to flesh out his personal story a bit more. The Chinese folklore (that the stories were based on) was interesting.

This is the first book I’ve listened to by this narrator (Anthony Lee). His narration tone was pleasant, and his character voices were good. However, his overall narration was average. He put inflections on words that people would not do when in conversation or relating a tale. This can made listening to the book more difficult to listen to because it disrupts the flow.

There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence or swearing.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

We need more Chinese urban fantasy please!

This book contains the following interconnected short stories: Wild Garlic, On a Phantom Tide, The Shade of Lo Man Gong, Pagan Night, Desert Night Ride, Caravan of Death, Tong Yun Guy, Shaunessy Fong, Tinsel Chink, In the Temple of Forgotten Spirits. They capture the adventures of Jack Hong as he hitchhikes across the USA chasing after the elusive keilin (Chinese unicorn). The collection as a whole works pretty well. I think a few edits would have tightened the story up a bit so that it read smoothly as a novel. Each tale reads like a really long chapter for the most part but sometimes one story will reference actions or people we just left in the previous story. We haven’t had time to forget, so it comes off a little repetitive here and there.

And that is my only criticism of the book.

Jack Hong is an interesting character on an engaging journey. He gets a little jail time for losing a fight and that’s when Lo Man Gong appears, practically pushing him out a window into a jail break. From there, Jack follows the misty form of the keilin, not knowing what the spirit wants with him. But he has plenty of opportunities to help others along the way.

Shaunessy Fong brought in the mystery solving aspect to the novel, as well as ghosts. Jack had his first nasty shock being tossed into jail, then another shock with the escape artist spirit Gong, yet one more with keilin, and finally, now, here are some ghosts. I was waiting for Jack to faint! But he rallied and decided that perhaps he was witnessing this horrible moment of the past via the ghosts reenactment because he was meant to help them.

Desert Night Ride is set in the desert Southwest, starting in Albuquerque and ending near Salt Lake City. Throughout this entire novel, Jack is sometimes searching for his ancestral past, sometimes ignoring it, and sometimes making peace with it. This tale did a great job of showcasing this particular aspect to the greater story. Plus, it’s the desert which is a setting I always enjoy in stories.

Wild Garlic struck a different captured my mind for other reasons. Set in the Ozarks, the population is primarily White with this one Chinese wife. On his way through, Jack is first invited to have dinner with them and then later to help them calm an angry spirit. It’s only late in the story that there’s something magical about some of the characters in this tale. While the Ozarks have kept them a bit isolated from their native culture, it’s also that isolation that’s allowed them to fly under the radar.

Caravan of Death has a little time travel element to it. Here, Jack learns a bit about the Chinese work gangs for one of the big railroad companies in the 1800s. Jack also helps a woman see how her ancestry isn’t lost in her own offspring as that ancestry helped to make this country travelable.

In the Temple of Forgotten Spirits wraps up the novel quite nicely. It brings everything home while also giving Jack a new purpose, a quest to set out upon. The author took the time to add plenty of notes about his experiences that relate to a specific tale or what his historical research turned up. I really enjoyed these as well as I enjoy learning little bits from my entertainment. All told, 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Anthony Lee did OK with this narration. He starts off a little rough, sometimes putting emphasis on one word over others in a sentence, making it sound awkward. But he smooths out about 1/3 of the way into the book. His attempt at hick accents sounded off but his pronunciation of various Asian words sounded great to my untutored ears. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Anthony Lee. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Refreshing story line

William Wu writes an interesting story. I like the way he interjects Chinese history in between each adventure. The story is refreshing because of the it's written, the subject matter and they way he ties the adventures into history. Anthony Lee does a very good job in narrating the story and bringing it to life.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • TU
  • 08-07-18

Not my favorite, but pretty decent

I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

So, this was an interesting listen. The book comes across as a collection of linked short stories about the same guy, rather than a novel. The thoughts by the author were kind of odd for me. They were interesting but it kind of took me out of the story. This wasn't a big deal, just an observation for potential listeners. The stories themselves were goodand held my interest. The narration was decent. Not the best I've ever heard but far from the worst. All in all, it was middle of the road audio book for me. It wasn't one I'd go out of my way to recommend, but if you like cultural history based fantasy stories, it might be worth checking out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ok Jack Can You Help Me Understand

I got this ARC via audiobook boom and this is my voluntary review. This set of stories describes the adventures of an Asian-American and the things he encountered as he traveled on a journey that led him to follow a Chinese unicorn who was helping him save many ghost who were roaming around needing to move on. Some of the stories made sense, some did not. As I listened I soon realized that Jack was telling the history of his people through the stories and showing how cruel life had been for his people. He also showed the human side and the joy that they had while enduring the things they had to endure. The narrator brought out the emotions and moved the stories along. Some where quick adventures while others were longer and more detailed. At time I had to go back and listen to the beginning of some of them to understand the story, but overall they were a nice set of stories. I loved the one about the ghost haunting the log cabin and the giant of a husband who followed the lead of his tiny wife unfailingly. she was not a tyrant but everything she did was because the two of them loved each other.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

If I had the opportunity to relate to each story

So the idea and the concept are pretty good
The stories are good and interesting
Everything is very very well written
All in all, the book is worth listening to
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review .

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting Listen

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. I found it a little difficult at first to get into the story but once I did, I enjoyed each of the small stories. The follow up by the author with his thought process after each story was interesting to hear as well. Overall, I very much enjoyed listening to this story and would have liked it to be left open for future travels.