Title: House of Eight Orchids
Author: James Thayer
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Adventure, Historical Fiction
In 1912, John Wade and his brother, William—children of the American consul—were kidnapped off the street in Chungking, China, and raised in the house of Eunuch Chang, the city’s master criminal. Twenty-five years later, John is the eunuch’s most valuable ward, a trained assassin and swindler, and William has become a talented forger. On the brink of World War II, China is in chaos. When William betrays Eunuch Chang and escapes to central China, a place of ferocious warlords and bandits, John begins a desperate search to save his brother, while Eunuch Chang hunts them both.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for that!
When I started reading this book, I was extremely intrigued by the description I had read (well duh, that’s why accepted the ARC after all), even though I wasn’t entirely sure about what genre the book was even going to be. But alas, I was promised China and awesome siblings and kick-ass adventures, so I loaded the ebook onto my Kindle and dived in expecting awesomeness.
After reading it, I have to say I’m still not entirely sure what the genre is, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I do have some problems with it.
Generally, I guess this is mainly an adventure story. A guy and his brother escape from the temple they grew up in and one of them basically goes on a quest to find the other. I wouldn’t say it’s YA, it’s way too gory for that in some places, and the characters are in their 30s, but it’s certainly a quick and easy read I’d say everyone above the age of 16 or 17 can enjoy (unless you’re squeamish, in which case this book probably isn’t for you at all…).
The fact that it’s set in China gave it a bit of a Fantasy vibe, even though I guess that’s not really what it is. I mean, I don’t know enough about the Chinese culture in the 1930s/40s, but there is no magic or supernatural creatures involved. Seeing as the book is set right before the start of WWII and has some political elements, I guess one could say maybe it’s Historical Fiction, but who knows. It’s an adventure story.
I liked the story, generally. The characters were interesting, as was their backstory, and the cultural aspects were super cool. As I said, I can’t really judge their accuracy, but I assume the author did quite a bit of research before writing this book.
However, I’d say that the book was probably a bit too short, and the characters weren’t explored as well as they could have been, especially John and his brother could have been a lot more interesting, considering the fact that they were taken away from their parents as kids and grew up with a sort of crazy eunuch thief master person in China.
The plot was a bit… odd. As I said, the book is quite short, and it all seemed a bit rushed. The main character basically stumbles from one enemy to the next one (obviously being successful every single time) and it kind of reminded me of a bad action video game. Like seriously, as soon as he as one guy defeated, the next one turns up and I’m just left wondering if China really WAS that crazy back then of if the author just has too many idea in his head. The storyline also doesn’t really have anything exciting to it. The main plot points are sort of predictable and it doesn’t feel like that much happens (in terms of the overall story, not the many, many enemies the main character deals with…).
One more thing I want to mention is the amount of violence in this book. There’s quite a lot, and it’s quite graphic. Generally, I don’t mind that in books, but in this one it did seem sort of forced at times, as if the author was just writing this story in order to describe as many disgusting, violent scenes as possible. I guess that’s eventually up to everyone’s individual taste, so if you like violence in books, you’ll love this one! :’D
Now, while this review sounds fairly negative, I’m definitely not trying to say that this was not a good book! I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it, and it being set in China was definitely super exciting and sets it apart from many other books with a similar storyline. I highly suggest you check this book out yourselves and see if you like it, seeing as many of the things I criticised could simply be because of my personal taste in books.
The book will be released on the 5th of January.