Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Publication date: 28 April 2009 by HarperTeen
ISBN 10/13: 0061730211 | 9780061730214
Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Mythology, Asian, power
Ai Ling comes from a pretty traditional family and is on her way to becoming betrothed. However, it seems like the old rumors of her father's exile from the Palace haven't died, and her family is unable to find her a match. Her father is then summoned back to the Palace but, when he doesn't return and an associate tries to blackmail Ai Ling into marriage, she flees the city to bring him back.
On her journey she encounters Chen Yong, a young man of mixed heritage who is also searching for his own answers as well as a whole slew of demons, witches and other mythical creatures all intent on stopping Ai Ling. Luckily for her, her father gives her a jade pendant before he leaves that has mythical properties that protect her and it saves her on more than one occasion. Ai Ling is also coming into powers of her own that she must learn to use.
I have to admit that I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this book. I found it by way of a blog post about diversity in young adult lit (sorry but the source escapes me now) and picked it up on the basis of some positive reviews and a beautiful cover (more on that later).
It took me awhile to get really get into this book. I liked the idea of the story but the writing felt a bit formal and I had a hard time getting into the characters and story. Eventually I did though and I found myself really rooting for Ai Ling and her companions. I would have liked to have learned more about Silver Phoenix. We get a little bit of information on her but not much. I also want to learn more about the origins of Ai Ling's powers and what they mean.
The descriptions of the demons and creatures was great. I don't know which ones are actual myths but Pon writes them so it doesn't matter. All of them seem like they could have come out of an ancient text. Some people have said that the ending was too abrupt but I liked that it was left open ended and that everything didn't wrap up the way you expected it to. Pon's debut novel has laid a solid foundation for Ai Ling's world and I am looking forward to continuing her journey in the sequel, Fury of the Silver Phoenix.
Note about the cover: Due to lack of sales and booksellers not knowing what to do with the original Silver Phoenix cover, the sequel and paperback edition of Silver Phoenix have been repackaged in the hopes of getting it to a wider audience. While I understand that sometimes compromises have to be made, let me just say that I think the original cover of Silver Phoenix is gorgeous and it's a shame it had to change.
Visit the author online at cindypon.com and follow @cindypon on Twitter.