Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Black Isle by Sandi Tan - Book Review

Title: The Black Isle
Author: Sandi Tan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 7th August 2012
Pages: 519
Format: E-Book -EPUB
Genre: Literary Fiction / Historical
Source: ARC from NetGalley

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All my life, people have tried to erase me. I refuse to let them win.
I will tell my story. I will not become a ghost.

Uprooted from Shanghai with her father and twin brother Li, young Cassandra finds the Black Isle's bustling, immigrant-filled seaport, swampy jungle, and grand rubber plantations a sharp contrast to the city of her childhood. And she soon discovers something more: the Black Isle is home to a myriad of restless ghosts--ghosts that only she can see.
Haunted and lonely, Cassandra at first tries to ignore the apparitions that crouch in the corner of her bedroom, parade down the street, and hang from the ceiling fan at school. Yet despite her struggles with these spirits, Cassandra comes to love her troubled home. And soon, she attracts the notice of a dangerously charismatic man.
But as she grows into a fearless, strong young woman, the Isle's dark forces won't let her go. War is looming, and Cassandra wonders if her unique gift might be her beloved island's only chance for salvation . . .
(Goodreads Synopsis)

This was an interesting tale, blending historical fiction with a hint of the paranormal, set against the backdrop of war and conflict. Tan managed to set the scene beautifully and there was a great sense of place throughout the novel that really contributed to the atmosphere.

Cassandra is a wonderful character. Clearly flawed, she still inspires sympathy and comes across as very real and believable. Her interaction with the other characters is well done and the dialogue is fluid and engaging.

There were a couple of points when the pacing slowed and I found my attention wavering, but I was soon snapped back into the story again and there were enough subtle twists towards the end to hold my interest and keep me keen to see how things would play out.

Sandi Tan has a unique voice and I would definitely be interested in reading more from her in the future. This is a great read for fans of both historical literary fiction and ghost stories.

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