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The Girl with Ghost Eyes  By  cover art

The Girl with Ghost Eyes

By: M. H. Boroson
Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
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Publisher's Summary

It's the end of the 19th 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 shame to Li-lin and her father - and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

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 a male-dominated 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 immigrant 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.

©2015 M. H. Boroson (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant tale of magic, monsters, and kung fu in the San Francisco Chinatown of 1898." (Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about The Girl with Ghost Eyes

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Loved this!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Girl with Ghost Eyes to be better than the print version?

Yes, hearing the chinese words read aloud really adds to the experience.

What did you like best about this story?

A great introduction to a rich mythological tradition. Also great kung fu scenes.

Which scene was your favorite?

The final battle.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was caught up in the whole book, but no particular moment stood out.

Any additional comments?

Although it hints at a couple of tropes from the urban fantasy genre, for the most part I felt this was a very original and compelling book. I absolutely love the descriptions of the ghosts and the spirit world, and a heroine who is clearly a badass but still working within the conventions of her time and culture. You can also tell there is some fantastic research here. There is an authenticity to the world the author creates, even though (as is explained) some details had to be changed in order to create a good story. It's also a very very entertaining book - the fight scenes are fantastic and there are a lot of them. And because the heroine is both very strong and trying to fulfill her duties to her community, I'm totally caught up in her journey. I want more, is what I am saying.

12 people found this helpful

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I hope it becomes a series!

I loved this book. I found myself doing other activities just so I could listen to more of the story.

The story line and characters were amazing. I felt like I was really being drawn into the story with the full range of emotions that each character was displaying.

The narrator was very good. I've listened to her with other audiobooks, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

I really hope that this book becomes a series. I'll be keeping my eye out for more 😊

8 people found this helpful

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Unique and thoughtful

The concepts and seeing are really what drew me in. I love the culture being San Francisco Chinatown in the 19th century. The author does a phenomenal job with the cultural norms while also spelling it out for us who don't know the nuances. It also highlights the real world hardships that Chinese immigrants faced then and how an ancient culture adjusted to/fought the change of a new culture.

The power system is consistent and new ideas introduced don't feel out of place or overpowered. I also really love that her abilities are not solely for combat. Early on we see her sending items to the spirit realm and guiding those in the afterlife.

A few things I didn't like as much are the protagonist's inner monologue. At several points in the story it just feels like she's crying how it is all her fault. I get it, and that it is a valid emotion, but it was so consistent that I put the book down from time to time bc of it. She does express other emotions as well and I loved that. She seems very well rounded.

The other aspect is that she seems a little too forced to be an outcast. Her internal monologue tells us several times that she is an outcast. She had this eye ability and it's considered a terrible thing so she was an outcast.... But no one knew about it or they thought it was healed long ago....?
Then she is a young widow, which in this book they say is a bad thing.... But everyone loved her husband and cherished him? So I don't see why they would suddenly not be there for her?
And she was a woman and that made her an outcast.... Ok I get that one but why doesn't she have any other women friends?
She had an admirerer who wanted to wed her after her husband died and she rejected him.... Just bc. That's not a knock at her, she doesn't need to be married but she makes a huge deal about how she's so lonely all the time. Like why not remarry?
She meets another woman mage character who wants to connect and share her magic with her, but our heroine just shoves her off.

This concept of her being all alone and lonely is really hammered in hard. And I just don't see why we need that? I get she can't get help in the combat and battle but why make it so she literally has no one to support or love her except her dad? And even he isn't affectionate with her. He shows it in his actions but never words or reassurances.

7 people found this helpful

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Interesting premise but annoying main character

I liked the premise of this book, the themes of early 20th century Chinese American culture, magic, spirits, and martial arts were very interesting. The heroine, however, was whiny and annoying, repeating the same tired thoughts and feelings over and over of being unworthy, weak, scared, and self flagellation. I can appreciate a main character with nuance and flaws, but her constant whining detracted from an otherwise interesting book.

6 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Riveting

I loved this novel. It was simple but so powerful, and I love that it's making the world of Chinese mysticism accessible to those who otherwise would never be privy to it.

Emily Woo Zeller did a fantastic job narrating (seriously, her performance is worth it just by itself), and M.H. Boroson's writing transported me effortlessly into another world, where eyeball monsters exist and snake-like demons can recreate an amputated limb.

I felt every moment of our main character's struggle, and I fought alongside her up to the very end.

Bang-up job.

6 people found this helpful

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a must listen

I loved this book, the author opened a while new world for me and the reader brought the story to life. I hope that there are more stories the Author has to tell of this strong female protagonist.

5 people found this helpful

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A Chinese fairy tale come to life

This book has it all--a vivid setting, interesting characters, plot twists. It will appeal to anyone who likes good storytelling. The narrator is perfect. I loved this book.

4 people found this helpful

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Hard to finish

The story seemed to drag on and on, instead of being suspenseful it was just plain monotonous. I tried to like to main character and as much as I know I should look at her as strong and heroic especially because of the culture and time period, I found her to be whiny.

3 people found this helpful

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Weird narration, but interesting details

I struggled to give an overall rating that wasn't influenced by the narration...but I honestly can't imagine what it would have been like to just read this book. The narrator wasn't horrible, but her odd inflection and awkward emphasis got in the way of the story. I enjoyed the characters, and I was pleased to see a female character with some power, if not agency. I see that there's a sequel and there is some small part of me that is interested in reading it. I don't know...

3 people found this helpful

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Fresh fantasy, narration not perfect

Would you consider the audio edition of The Girl with Ghost Eyes to be better than the print version?

No, the audiobook has some volume issues and the voices didn't quite all work for me. It was nice to not have to figure out the pronunciation of Chinese terms and names however.

Did Emily Woo Zeller do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Generally yes, she used different voices for each. It wasn't always consistent however.

Any additional comments?

This story is excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Gavin J. Hicks
  • 02-05-19

amazing story really well told

Well developed characterization, giving a wonderful insight into Chinese folk beliefs and culture. Needing more.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie Paul
  • 10-15-22

I really tried to enjoy this book.

So honestly I tried to get into this book. I really liked the premise and the narration was excellent.
But I'm sorry, how utterly useless is Li Lin? Time after time I found myself getting frustrated with how the character is written. Every time she attempts something, whether it is to fight a ghost, do a vital task or chat to her dead husbands' friends she is always too weak, doesn't have the luck in is too unprepared, not devious enough, misses a key piece of info or simply doesn't think situations through. Every time there is a moment to throw her a bone it is dampened in a negative again Li lin, it is unrelenting, and as such I never found myself rooting for her or evening liking/ respecting her, because she is never going to have a chance to succeed. Just to underline this fact there is literally a line when she cries out "ai yah, I have failed again." And I was just like 'Oh what a surprise' I keep finding myself rolling my eyes or tutting at her incompetence. If your heroine is so unlikeable then there is no way to build up a relationship with the character. There are many moments when this book reminds me of a Chinese version of Sabrial by Garth Nix, but whereas I love that paragon of Literature, the Girl with Yin eyes promises potential but the author never delivers.
I do like the aspect of Chinese culture and mythology which is interesting enough to make up for the weaknesses in the characterization.

1 person found this helpful