Jan 12, 2016

Review: The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip

Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph every Tuesday. Share the first paragraph(s) of your current read or book interest, with information for readers. Also share a teaser from the book with Teaser Tuesday at A Daily Rhythm.
The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip, published November 24, 2015 by Kensington
First paragraph: 
When I turned thirty-three, I decided it was time for a big change in my life. It was time to become a witch.  
I have to admit I was not sure this would be a good idea.
I prided myself in being a modern woman, not an old-fashioned or superstitious one. So, instead of becoming a shamaness like Mother and Laolao, I'd become a scholar of shamanism.
Publisher's description: From the author of Secret of a Thousand Beauties and Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a beautifully written novel of self-discovery and intrigue.

Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.

When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.

My comments: The Chinese in general are great believers in ghosts and the supernatural, in an afterlife inhabited by ghosts. The author explores some of these beliefs in a modern context - a young Chinese scholar searches for the mysterious on an island that is believed to be inhabited by the ghostly - the Canary Islands. 

This novel uses an intriguing blend of superstitious belief, traditional folk culture and scholarly interest in an aspect of Chinese culture. The main character, Eileen Chen, is on an odyssey, exploring places real and magical on the islands, and interweaving old beliefs into her story.

An unusual read that will be interesting to those intrigued by the supernatural and in those able to reach out to "the other side."

Thanks to the author for a review copy of her book.


  1. Humm. The opener is good, but I'm not quite sure this is a book for me.

  2. Not the style I usually read, but a very interesting setting and idea. Hope you enjoy!
    Here's my Teaser/Intro: http://justasecondblog.blogspot.com/2016/01/teaser-tuesdaysfirst-chapter-first.html

  3. This isn't the kind of book I'd automatically pick up, but the opening and your own thoughts have piqued my interest.

    Reading With Jade

  4. I think this sounds quite interesting. I'm not a big fan of the cover, but the flowers in her hair are lovely. I'm just tired of the back of women's heads. Will keep this one in mind.

  5. Eileen's quest to become a a scholar of shamanism sounds fascinating! I'd read more of this novel.

  6. This does sound good! I enjoy books like this that delve into superstitions and culture. I will have to look for this book. Thank you for sharing!

  7. The first paragraph was interesting but not captivating. Your explanation of the story made me think I might like it after all. Thanks.

  8. Thanks Harvee for the review!Hope readers will enjoy The Witch's Market, and maybe learn something about the Chinese view of the supernatural. However, there's more to the novel, it's after all not about the dead, but the living -- greed, revenge, love, compassion, karma....Happy reading!

  9. Hmm, not a bad intro but, I don't think it is for me. Hope u like it Harvee.


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