Illustrated by Queenie Chan
Published: December 1st 2012 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Fantasy
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Shown through Queenie Chan′s stunning illustrations and comics, the story follows the stone spirit Gold′s entertaining adventures throughout history. His escapades include seducing a dragon princess, attempting to steal one of the Tiger′s wives, making bets with demons, and working for the Blue Dragon of the East.
Eventually, as a result of his crimes against Heaven and his constant philandering, Gold is ordered to join the household of Xuan Wu, the Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens. Xuan Wu is also known as John Chen, a Hong Kong businessman.
The story then follows Gold and Jade -- the dragon princess - in contemporary Hong Kong. The two small shen must help guard John Chen′s beloved human wife and baby daughter from demon attack. John Chen is vulnerable to attack while living on Earth, but his family are in the most danger of all...
I’d like to start off to say that this book has adult themes. The cover, title and the fact that it has illustrations has previously confused some readers, but Small Shen is not a kid’s book. If you’re thinking of giving this to a child, I’d suggest reading it first.
I bought Small Shen at Supanova this weekend since it’s the only Kylie Chan book I didn’t have, and I was lucky enough to have her sign it for me 🙂
I’ve wanted to read Small Shen for a long, long time. It’s a prequel to the Dark Heavens series and shows how Gold and Jade came to work for the Dark Lord. The story alternates time periods, telling us what happened just before White Tiger and also about what’s happened to Gold and Jade since the 1700s. I think it was a clever way to tell this story because it answers all the questions we’ve ever had in a new format and also plants a few clues for the next series.
Small Shen isn’t wholly a graphic novel, nor is it wholly written in prose: the two styles are cleverly mixed to provide readers with a unique experience. I love Queenie Chan’s illustrations: they’re gorgeous and vividly bring the past to life. I wish that we could have been treated to a few of those images in colour, however, since the cover gives us a glimpse of how they might have looked and I wanted more.
I think my only disappointment in this book is the Michelle, who is a truly annoying character. She seemed like such a diva that I quickly began to dread when she came on scene, which isn’t how I wanted to feel about her. I did also think everyone worried a little too much about Simone’s safety – it got very repetitive when readers had to be reminded in almost every chapter how precious she is and how important it is to keep demons from finding her. It’s not that I think she’s unimportant, but I think readers are smart enough to have grasped that early on and the useless repetition jarred the reading experience for me.
Small Shen is not to be missed by fans of Chan’s works, but it’s also a perfect jumping off point for those who have never tried her before. Although stylistically quite different from her other works, the quality of the storytelling and amazing characters are all present, and I think readers will thoroughly enjoy the multimedia element.