Hello! I’m happy to participate in another blog tour. This time it’s for The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao! Thank you Shealea for including me and Bloomsbury for providing me a copy of the e-ARC.
What’s the book about?
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realised . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humour, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.
Title: The Dragon Warrior
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Publication date: 15 October 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
CWs: death of a loved one, bullying, parental abuse
As the demons grow more powerful, so do the gods – and warriors – The Dragon Warrior
I love this line. It’s so empowering and captures Faryn’s character.
The Dragon Warrior is a heartwarming tale that speaks to me and hopefully other people of Chinese descent, especially the diaspora. I love Faryn and Alex and their relationship dynamic. I was impressed by how fleshed out they were and their character growth. It took a while for me to warm up to Moli and Wang, but they were interesting characters themselves.
The book is fast-paced that you would get hooked into the story. As a sucker for quests, I was swept off my feet by Faryn’s and being with her brother and frenemies makes it worthwhile. The worldbuilding is rich and detailed – especially on the food (my goodness! I drooled). I’m familiar with Chinese mythology, but Zhao makes it refreshing and well incorporated with the story. Zhao also knows how to make me laugh one minute and teary the next so beautifully.
The only issues I had were: the worldbuilding was sketchy at times and there were moments where the characters should’ve reacted more or more realistically.
Overall, The Dragon Warrior didn’t let me down and I wouldn’t mind going on another adventure with Faryn and the gang.
Being a Chinese diasporic, and Lunar New Year and dragons
The Dragon Warrior centres on Chinese culture especially Lunar New Year and the mythology that drives it. Like Faryn, I’m part of the Chinese diaspora. Because I’m also Indonesian Australian and there’s a sensitive history regarding Chinese-Indonesians, I grew up with some exposure to Chinese culture.
My family’s connection to our Chinese roots were reduced to the first two letters of our last name (it was changed to sound more Indonesian), food (mostly Indonesian dishes that have Chinese influence), addressing elders with words of Chinese origin (e.g. engkong – grandpa and cici – older sister), acknowledging our zodiac animals, and celebrating Lunar New Year. But within the last decade, we’ve been more open about and reconnecting to the Chinese part of our heritage. My parents even went to China, know a few basic phrases and hang out in a Chinese-Indonesian community.
As for me, I’ve been reading up on everything about our culture, immersing myself in more traditions and even cooking Chinese desserts, and unlearning internalised racism. And of course, I’m invested in books involving characters and settings of Chinese origin. Now I’m hoping for more representation of the Chinese diaspora and diverse cultures within it like Hakka, Hokkien, Vietnamese and Indonesian.
Anyway, what do we do on Lunar New Year? Giving and receiving angpao which are the famous red envelopes (like the one in the first photo above). We say “gong xi fa choi” and later have family dinner and watch the lion dance. This year, I went to the Lantern Festival which was breathtaking. Sadly, dragon dances are less common in my area, but they’re still present.
Dragons have a large presence in The Dragon Warrior. The creatures are important characters and symbols of power and good fortune.
Below are photos I took at the Chinese Museum in Melbourne three months ago. Dragons were everywhere. The museum is also home to the Millennium Dragon who is the longest dragon in the world – see here on my Instagram.
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle grade manuscripts.
Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers on the tour!