The Girl with Ghost Eyes and the Zeitgeist

Fantasy novels Part 2.

SpiritedAwayMonstersOnce again, I’m not part of the zeitgeist.

I did not love The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M. H. Boroson’s debut fantasy novel.

Plot, no spoilers:  In San Francisco’s Chinatown, in the late 19th century, Xian Li-lin battles ghosts and monsters, even though she must remain a dutiful daughter. Boroson has studied Chinese mythology and martial arts, clearly seen Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant film Spirited Away (pictured), and loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Along with his brilliant premise, what’s not to like?

The endless fighting, punctuated with Li-lin announcing that she’s terrified, causes the interesting relationship between a traditional Chinese father and his ferocious daughter disappears in the melee. That’s not to like. In a novel, I want character development, if nothing else.

But hey, David Gemmell’s debut novel Legend has been called “one long fight scene,’ which didn’t hurt his sales, or reputation, at all.

clan_of_the_white_lotusThat’s what I mean about not being part of the zeitgeist. If I want to experience endless fight scenes, I watch martial arts movies. Not just Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, either; I even enjoy the ones where the culture is so alien to me, so Chinese, Japanese, or Thai, that the plot makes no sense and I can concentrate on the fighting.

In a novel, along with character development, I like good writing and amazing ideas. Boroson almost delivers on the amazing ideas, but again, the background of Daoism and Chinese lore disappeared in the kung fu. And his writing is functional, but repetitive.

My takeaway: Today’s zeitgeist loves endless fight scenes. I don’t. No zeitgeist for me.