cover image Sword


Da Chen, . . HarperCollins/Geringer, $16.99 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-06-144758-7

Chen (Wandering Warrior ) again mixes martial arts, Chinese lore and light romance with great success in another Forbidden Tales novel. His cunning heroine, Miu Miu, steps forward on her 15th birthday, determined to kill the emperor who murdered her father. Secretly trained in martial arts, Miu Miu repeatedly and narrowly evades misfortune and death. Her many near-misses keep readers hooked, while Chen, in a languid poetic voice, masterfully weaves in Miu Miu's thoughts about traditional Chinese ways (“She knew for certain that she did not want to be a human hen [whose] chore was merely to lay eggs and daily face the bullying of roosters”). After Miu Miu unknowingly challenges her betrothed to a kung fu duel—nearly killing him—the two pledge their love and team up to slay the evil emperor. Here Chen's story gets less grounded in reality, involving magical swords and other fantastic elements. In an unexpected twist, the tale ends with a satisfying look at family honor and the triumph of love. Atmospheric and exciting. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)