Review: Dragonhearted

Dragonhearted by Xie Shi Min
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dragonhearted is the story of a young girl and her adventures, discovering ancient Chinese myths and legends in the modern world. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this book is the Chinese version of Percy Jackson. That’s the best way to describe it.

The plot is interesting, our young hero Xin has to defeat an ancient evil and starts on her hero’s journey to do so. Better still, retellings of popular (and not so well known) Chinese myths are interwoven into the book. And these myths all have a part to play in the story. It left me excited as to see how everything is connected and how all the stories and plotlines tie up at the end. Best of all, even after the climax is over, Xie slaps you with yet another myth that makes for a great plot twist.

For a children’s book, it is very smart, plot twists and all. It doesn’t try to dumb down the reader. It is also a page turner and will make you want to race through the whole book to absorb all of it. Good thing that this book is short enough to be read in one sitting.

The book does something interesting. Because it is told from the first person view of a young girl, words are purposely misspelled, and thoughts are interjected into the prose, portraying how children think. Definitely, a refreshing way to view things. Although I’m not sure if children will identify with such a literary trick.

I’d recommend this not only to all children aged 10 and above, but to every Chinese person. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live, our traditions and myths are the same. With English literature full of western themes, to find a book that blends Chinese themes together (without blindly copying) is very refreshing indeed.

I do have to say, however, if you weren’t already familiar with Chinese culture and myths, you may need to take this book slower or look up some of these myths online. It was easy for readers like me who have heard all the myths at least once before and who are familiar with the creatures of myth. Still, don’t fret, if you are unfamiliar, then take this as your eye opener into the rich world of Chinese myths and legends.

I know the author personally.
I was a beta reader.
I am Singaporean Chinese

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