The Library of Legends
publication: May 12th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks
From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel in which a convoy of student refugees travel across China, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan
“Myths are the darkest and brightest incarnations of who we are . . .”
China, 1937. When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of students, faculty and staff must walk 1,000 miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the refugees who are at risk; Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure: a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.
The students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends creates unexpected bonds. Lian becomes friends and forms a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is arrested and another one is murdered, Lian realizes she must escape before a family secret puts her in danger too. Accompanied by Shao and his enigmatic maidservant, Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai in the hopes of reuniting with her mother.
During the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. This revelation comes with profound consequences, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits who embark on an exodus of their own, one that will change the country’s fate forever.
I was intrigued about The Library of Legends from the first time I heard about the book. The idea of college students trekking across China amid a war with a 500-year-old collection of books all while trying to stay safe made me want to pick up this book as soon as I could. Once I did pick up the book, I realized it was much more than just a story of college students and a library. The folklore, the friendships, the angst, and the magical storyline pulled me in and kept me entertained until I read the very last page. When I finished the book, I closed the cover and just thought about what a wonderful and historical story I had just read and how glad I was that I took my time, read every word, and enjoyed the book.
The history shared in the story was amazing. I did not know much about China in 1937 or their war with Japan. I am sure it was something I had to memorize in history class, but it was not something I remembered. After reading this book, the history will be something I remember and something I will look to learn more about. The folklore is what really drew me in. I was interested in how the folklore would play into the students reaching their destinations safely, how their relationships would grow, and how the story would end.
Janie Chang wrote a book that has heartache, love, and family. Chinese folklore and history were wonderful. I recommend picking up your own copy.
**Thank you, Janie Chang and NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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