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GALAXY BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I was so eager to read this, that when I found out the first chapter was available online I dove right in, eagerly devouring the tiny morsels Kylie had divulged all the while longing to lay my hands on my own copy of the book. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long and soon I dove back into the wonderful world of Kylie Chan. For newcomers to the series, stop now, this is a review for book 7 of her overall series (she’s writing a trilogy of trilogies, so although Dark Serpent is a book 1 there are 6 books set before this one.) Please start with White Tiger which is book 1 of the Dark Heavens Trilogy and the beginning of this modern oriental saga. For anyone not up to date, this will have a few spoilers.
At the end of the last novel John was finally back, his Serpent was captured by the Demon King and Emma had lost her title. The first chapter begins from John’s point of view, a first for Kylie which added a nice new flavor to the story despite its third person narrative. I liked hearing John’s voice; he’s such a delightful character and has a wicked sense of humor that is tempered with a deep wisdom. Starting off with his voice just added an extra spice and excitement to the novel after finally getting to read after the 2 year gap. The narration flips between John and Emma as we delve into Europe and the couple become separated after discovering the secret of Emma’s heritage and she becomes a target to be eliminated by the locals. This trilogy really seems to focus upon the oath John made at the beginning of the series and it looks as though each book will focus on one of the 3 parts. As readers can remember, Emma has to be lost in order to be found and the plot quickly thickens when good old George arrives on the scene to abscond with Emma to the Western Celestial Plain, which has been seemingly abandoned by the Western Shen centuries ago, leaving the demons to take over and preventing any Shen from entering the Realm to rescue her.
George has progressed since we last met, and he has more of a feminine feel to him than before, more like a meld of his Kitty Kwok persona and normal George. Honestly, I can’t believe I liked him so much. He was one of my favorite characters till the stunning reveal at the end of book 6 and he doesn’t pull any punches in this book either. The plot ducks, weaves and twists a fair bit and surprised me more than once with its outcome. That said, I loved every moment of it, and I can’t wait for the upcoming battle on the horizon, though I fear that there will be sad times ahead. You can’t have war without loss however most of the characters are Immortal so it’ll be interesting to see what Kylie has planned. I do know one thing, the battle will begin in the next book and the story will be epic but I have strange suspicion it will end on some sort of a cliff hanger which I know will drive me crazy but will be ultimately worth it.
I love Kylie Chan’s books because they focus on Chinese mythology which is so different to most fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional European mythology as much as the next gal, but this story and creatures were just so new and fresh to me that I couldn’t help but get caught up in the characters. Although we’ve seen the series progress from mostly human characters to Chinese gods, demons and other Immortals, drawing the story away from the “real world” into Celestial Realm, Dark Serpent lets us dip our toes back into the mortal realm to uncover Emma’s lineage to discover what she really is and I must say I was rather shocked and surprised by the outcome. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, cursing characters out loud and mumbling to myself about where the story might lead. ~ Chrissi