Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Witch's Market, by Mingmei Yip {ends 12/1}

Review by: Karen Doerr

As I stared into the water, I felt myself slipping into a trance.

Minutes later, I sense a presence surrounding me. Now I was scared, and froze in place, not daring to move even my lashes and quieting my breathing. Gradually from the surface of the water I began to hear intense whispers seeming to reveal ancient secrets, if only I could make out what they were saying. My eyes and ears seemed to open up to things I had never before seen and sounds I had never before heard. It was in a language I could almost, but not quite understand.

Eileen Chen seems to have it all: budding career as a professor, hopelessly devoted boyfriend, and magical powers. What would make her risk losing it all? According to author Mingmei Yip, a sense that there is more out there, which cumulates as a dream of a talking tree. This was my first experience with the author’s work. While I did find it a bit slow at the beginning, it became hard to put down. The author took Amy Tan’s formula of mixing Chinese culture, self-discovery, and family dynamics and added in a bit of fantasy.   

Official synopsis:
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.

I had never thought of Chinese superstitions about witchcraft before this book. (Don’t let anybody tell you that the Great Leap Forward was a complete failure.) I was fascinated by the tiny details Yip included on the topic. I also appreciated her references to classical Chinese literature, including Lust, Caution, a personal favorite.

The author has a talent for making her characters multi-dimensional. They are so human, that the reader can see their flaws as well as their charms and genuinely wants them to succeed. This is the main reason why the book became so hard to put down for me. While I could never see myself in Eileen’s shoes, I did recognize some of her friends like Ivan and Luis and I needed to know what happened to them.

Overall though, I found the book very incidental. I was drawn to the book by its title, wondering what kind of world would be presented. But as the story progressed, the fantasy elements get down played to make room for more traditional themes such as unrequited love and the meaning of family. Eileen’s powers are needed to make the protagonist meeting many different people more than just an intricate web of coincidence. While the book was never presented as a fantasy, I think a few more of those aspects would have made it more memorable.

The Witch’s Market is available in stores and online today, November 24. 2 out of 5 stars.
{Click here to purchase}

About the reviewer:

Karen K. Doerr has the notable distinction of being one of the few people who is willing to admit that she has gotten hopelessly lost on the way to the bathroom on multiple continents. Between bouts of aimless wandering, she likes to read. She currently resides in Michigan.


I have one copy of The Witch's Market available for a lucky reader.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, December 1st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted the next day via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Witch's Market


Post a Comment

Share buttons


Welcome to Books I Think You Should Read, which focuses on book reviews, author interviews, giveaways, and more.
Get new posts by email:

2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Liz has read 0 books toward her goal of 20 books.

Blog Archive