Thorn of the Night Blossoms by JC Kang

Series: Dragon Songs Saga #0.5 Rating: 4.5/5
Date of Publishing: March 20th 2019 Genre: fantasy
Publisher: Dragonstone Press Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 93 Author’s website: http://jckang.info/

Quote of the Book

“The Floating World, named because it was where a man’s dreams took flight, provided all kinds of entertainment at any budget.”

Blurb

Half-elf Jie and Lilian appear to be mere courtesans of the Floating World, but they are sisters in a clan of assassins and spies which serves the Emperor. When Lilian’s abusive patron makes the work intolerable, Jie sets out on her own mission-to get Lilian reassigned.

Problem is, Lilian lacks adequate stealth and combat skills, and her patron, admired by all, holds the key to the empire’s stability.

The courtesans have always warred with wits and poetry, but with killers moving within the Floating World and traitors plotting a rebellion, Jie must decide her own loyalty-- to the Emperor or her best friend. 

Personal notes

I’ve been eyeing JC Kang‘s books since he entered Songs of Resurrection to SPFBO4, but never got around to read anything from him. So this novella seemed the right place to start when it was on sale not long after being released.

 

Song of the Book

I definitely wanted a song performed by a female singer. And honestly, who could be more perfect than P!nk? Besides I think the lyrics go quite well with the book. Especially Jie and her feelings.

 

Review

This is going to be a mini review, as we are talking about a novella, so I don’t want to spoil it much. I went into Thorn of the Night Blossoms without any knowledge of the series. Thorn of the Night Blossoms is the prequel story to the Dragon Songs Saga, featuring a readers’ favorite, Jie.

Jie and Lilian are both living in the Floating World and belong to the same house. While Lilian is already a Blossom – she is allowed to entertain men and earn money for the House -, Jie is only a Floret, waiting for her deflowering to be a Blossom. But they are much more than feeble courtesans. They are also honed assassins, who serve the Empire by trying to unravel treason and complete other missions the clan gives them.

One day Jie finds herself and the clan threatened by unknown forces and decides to take matters into her hands, trying to figure out who is behind the attacks on her – is it a personal grudge or someone discovered the clan? What she doesn’t expects is that the person behind it all plays on her biggest weakness.

With its 93 pages, Thorn of the Night Blossoms is a perfect afternoon read which you can blow through in one sitting. Kang’s writing is solid and engaging. He is obviously well versed in Asian culture – which is not much of a surprise taking his background. The Floating World reminded me of the Japanese pleasuring quarters, the Houses and the society inside the quarter of the Geishas. Jie and Lilian are like Ninja Geishas practically, and we witness Jie using her skills quite a few times in this action packed tale about love, revenge and treason.

I found it a bit hard to connect with the characters personally, and that affected my enjoyment of reading Thorn of the Night Blossoms. The focus was more on the action and the plot rather than the characters – which doesn’t mean it was bad. Especially if you like fast paced reads with a mystery to solve and a twist you didn’t see coming.

I would have liked to learn more about Jie’s fae heritage, about why does it make her so different – it keeps being mentioned that she is exotic, but I don’t know, there was something missing for me. Maybe because this is the first time I’ve read about her and I don’t know much about her past. What I found interesting however was the relationship between Jie and Lilian. I’ve been reading some Asian inspired historical fiction in my time and while love between males weren’t such unusual occurences, similar relationships between females are hardly discussed. This might be thanks to my limited reading experiences in said culture, though. When it comes to Asian inspired fantasy and/or historical fiction, the focus is most of the time on the samurais and warriors. Maybe the only exception is Mulan’s story which got widely known even in the Western world – partly thanks to Disney. But I went off topic here. Anyway, it’s refreshing to read Asian inspired fiction with a focus on female characters.

Thorn of the Night Blossoms is a good entry point into JC Kang‘s world. Whether you only just get to know the Dragon Songs Saga series or you already read one the books and you are interested to learn more about Jie’s past, you won’t be disappointed.

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