Our story opens in China in 1935, with the ghost of Leiyin watching her funeral, and wondering why she hasn’t passed on to the afterlife. Her three souls (yin, yang, and hun) tell her that she must first make amends. And so we are led through memories of Leiyin’s life and the events that led up to her untimely death.
Although a slow moving story, this captured me. I found the world of pre-WWII China fascinating, with the struggle between the Communists and Nationalists providing the backdrop for Leiyin’s story. The development of Leiyin’s character was beautifully written, as was the setting of this novel. I was completely swept up into this world where tradition and modernity struggled to maintain control.
My main issue with this novel was the same issue that I have with many historical fiction novels. It just took forever to get through the story, and I felt like it was taking forever. I think that the fact that we kept on taking a step outside of the story to have conversations with Leiyin’s three souls about what great tragedy she had taken part of and needed to make amends for was what really drew my attention to how slow this story was progressing. Kind of like how a road trip can seem so much longer if you continually address how many kilometres there are left in front of you.
All in all, I rather enjoyed this novel. If you are a historical fiction fan, if you are interested in reading more #ownvoices work, if you don’t mind a slower paced novel, I would definitely recommend Three Souls.