Title: Small Shen
Author: Kylie Chan & Queenie Chan
Series: Dark Heavens #0.5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Demons, Graphic novels, Mythology
Format: Graphic novel, Novel
Publisher: Harper Voyager
5th sentence, 74th page: How long before the spirit could be restored and you would become more than an animal again?
In the tradition of the bestselling White Tiger series, Small Shen follows the adventures of cheeky troublemaker Gold who seduces a dragon princess, fights demons and causes headaches for the gods of Chinese mythology. When Gold is ordered to join the household of John Chen, the Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens, he discovers he will do anything to save John and his family from danger…
Small Shen is a stunning combination of Kylie Chan’s action-packed storytelling and Queenie Chan’s illustrations and manga comics.
I love the combination of mediums in this novel. Flicking between prose and images makes this journey really fun and different. Especially when you place it within the context of the Dark Heavens series. Following Gold through the years and his ability to get into all kinds of trouble is entertaining to say the least. The fact that his numerous mistakes are accompanied by actual facial expressions, well, it’s priceless.
As well as the mixed medium, the storyline jumps between time periods. When it is telling the more modern-day story of Michelle and John, there is only prose. The characters that I have grown to love throughout the series are still only witnessed in my mind’s eye. Which I like, nothing destroys a series I have long loved more than being shown another’s image of what the character looks like… only to find out that someone else’s idea is completely different to my own. Yet, when the past is visited and the Gods are seen, there is some vivid and thoroughly enjoyable pictures which can accompany this. Not only do I like the fact that Leo, Emma and Simone aren’t really witnessed throughout this tale, but using pictures to tell a lot of one storyline and not another help to further distinguish between the two timelines and reduce the confusion.
I can remember reading White Tiger years and years ago. And I did kind of wonder just what Gold and Jade had done to be forced into servitude. I also wondered at what kind of woman Michelle was and how the relationship with her was so different to that of Emma’s relationship. This small prequel helps to answer a lot of the questions that I had when I started this series. It’s enjoyable to read this before or after reading the Dark Heavens trilogy. Or really at any point within the great Dark Heavens series.
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