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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Bunch of Short Stories

I really enjoyed this book. It's a compilation of short stories surrounding a Chinese American man (Jack) hitchhiking America. All of these are stand alone stories but combined as a whole they make a wonderful book of his adventures. Usually in books like these, there are two or three really good stories and the rest are filler; BUT in this book I enjoyed every story. I loved how he added history with the different Chinese folklore. The narration was just okay.

"This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review."