Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.
When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.
I loved the synopsis of this book. A religion professor finding out that she is a shamaness in the Chinese tradition and then meeting up with witches from another tradition? Yes, please.
It starts out delightfully creepy. She is starting to have visions of the spirit world. She meets a coven of witches who bring her into a ritual and abandon her naked the next day and she doesn’t remember what happened. A horse takes her for a ride to meet a mysterious sculptor.
But then it turns into a murder mystery. Yeah, didn’t see that coming.
I lost a lot of interest at this point. The weirdness was gone. She still talks to ghosts but they just want her solve the mystery. Also, suddenly every man is falling in love with her and wants to marry her the moment they meet her. This isn’t even based on romance or attraction or anything. They just suggest getting married.
I wish there had been a better sense of place. She went to a culture that is unfamiliar to her but she is conveniently fluent in Spanish so she has no communication difficulties. She doesn’t really explore the islands. She holes up in a castle and in an abandoned village that could have been set anywhere. I never read anything that I felt could only have happened in this setting.
Her exploration of her Chinese spiritual heritage was much better but I wish there had been more exploration of the witches she came to find.
About Mingmei Yip
Mingmei Yip was born in China, received her Ph.D. from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and held faculty appointments at the Chinese University and Baptist University in Hong Kong. She’s published five books in Chinese, written several columns for seven major Hong Kong newspapers, and has appeared on over forty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and the U.S. She immigrated to the United States in 1992, where she now lives in New York City.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.
Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?
So I couldn’t sleep one night and finished what I was reading. I looked for something to download from the library -because I don’t have a bunch of unread books just sitting on my iPad?? Anyway, I wanted something new and this fit the bill. Good for Foodies Read and light. I ended up staying up most of the night to read it.
Kelly’s life is undergoing some major changes. Her mother just died. She left Kelly a letter with her wishes for her. One of the main ones was to move out of the Midwest and take some chances with her life. When the opportunity comes to move to London for a year to ghost write a cookbook for a movie star she jumps at the chance even though it means breaking up with her long term boyfriend (also on her mother’s list of things for her to do).
When she gets to England she discovers that superstar Natasha doesn’t really want anything to do with the cookbook. She wants Kelly to come up with recipes from her vague descriptions of meals she remembers but doesn’t really even want to taste the food. The only person who does like the food is Natasha’s husband Hugh. This leads to flirting and then major attraction. He insists that he and Natasha have a marriage in name only but should Kelly believe him?
I really enjoyed this book. There are recipes in the back for some of the food discussed. I wish there had been a recipe for the kale burgers that she struggles to make for most of the book only to have them dismissed by Natasha every time. “Not green enough,” etc.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.