Shout out to the Monkey King! Ugh seriously though, if you don’t know about the Monkey King, or haven’t seen many Monkey King stories in entertainment, I highly recommend checking them out. Yes, I chose The Forbidden Kingdom mostly because of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, but my comment still stands. GO CHECK IT OUT.
Thanks again so much to Storytellers on Tour for hosting this book blitz tour! I was so excited to listen to this debut. Click on the tour banner above to see more information on this book, the blitz, and more tours being hosted by SOT!
by Jadie Jang
Publisher: Solaris / Rebellion Publishing
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Length: 432 pages
San Francisco has a Monkey King – and she’s kinda freaked out.
Barista, activist, and were-monkey Maya McQueen was well on her way to figuring herself out. Well, part of the way. 25% of the way. If you squint.
But now the Bay Area is being shaken up. Occupy Wall Street has come home to roost; and on the supernatural side there’s disappearances, shapeshifter murders, and the city’s spirit trying to find its guardian.
Maya doesn’t have a lot of time before chaos turns up at her door, and she needs to solve all of her problems. Well, most of them. The urgent ones, anyhow.
Claire Light (writing as Jadie Jang) is almost as organizy as her characters. She started a magazine (Hyphen) and an arts festival (APAture) with a cast of Asian Pacific Americans even more magical, if less supernatural, than the ones she writes about. She also got an MFA, went to Clarion West, and compromised between the two by publishing a collection of “literary” sci-fi short stories (Slightly Behind and to the Left) that maybe 100 people read. After wrangling arts and social justice non-profits for 17 years, her already autoimmune-disease-addled body threw a seven-year-long tantrum, leading our then-house-bound heroine into an urban fantasy addiction.
A few years, and a dozen Euro-centric-mythology-dominated urban fantasy series later, Claire sat up and said “I can do this!” and Jadie Jang, the part of her brain that writes snarky-fun genre romps, was born. She posts about monkeys every Monday under @seelight on Twitter.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Storytellers on Tour, Jadie Jang, and Solaris / Rebellion Publishing for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
I think this was the coolest take on the Monkey King mythology that I’ve read ever. Part of this tells me that I need to read more stories on the Monkey King so I can have more under my belt. Another part tells me that modernizing the story and combining supernats with the human world in the way that Jang did it made the story that much more enjoyable for me. I also have to say that the narrator for this book was just perfect?! I personally haven’t heard of her before – Audible has the narrator listed as Michelle Schechter but Audible isn’t listing her in anything else – but I think she made this audiobook freaking amazing! If you are an audiobook person, I highly recommend listening to it if you can.
So in this story, Maya doesn’t know who her family is since she was adopted and moved around in the foster system a lot. What she DOES know is that she’s a supernat that can shift into just about anything. Her main form is a monkey – a macaw I believe, but don’t take my word for it. I’m going based off the audiobook, but she’s able to change into any kind of animal she wants. She’s one of the most powerful shifters in the San Francisco area, and probably more than that. Things in the supernat world are not going so well since there have been murders in the community, where shifters are losing their souls. Soul-sucking shadows and some sort of walking stick are involved… so what’s Maya going to do?
Solve the mystery, of course.
I’m actually really bummed that this isn’t supposed to be a series, because I would adore reading more about Maya and her journey in the supernat shape shifter world. Not to mention just her being her in San Francisco trying to learn more about her heritage without knowing exactly where she comes from. I also find Maya to be such a loveable character that has wonderful sass and tenacity. She’s definitely a bad-ass, and I would love to know her for real.