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Review: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Submitted by on June 27, 2012 – 4:00 amNo Comment

Author: Mingmei Yip
Title: Skeleton Women
Release: May 25, 2012
Series: Novel
Reviewer: Chrissy
Source: Advance Reader Copy | BEA
Purchase: | Book Depository

Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom…

When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion—all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung.

Forced to become Master Lung’s mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung’s affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla’s safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung’s eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father’s violent lifestyle—but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?

Mingmei Yip, author of Peach Blossom Pavilion and Song of the Silk Road, has created a captivating story filled with intrigue and opulence, peopled with extraordinary characters impossible to forget.

I was lucky enough to meet Mingmei Yip at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. She was on a panel for multicultural creative writing along with L.A. Banks and Barry Eisler. From her very first description of her book, Peach Blossom Pavilion, I was hooked. Throughout the panel I learned many things about Mingmei Yip as a writer and a person. I learned that she is quite the Renaissance woman, having written adult and children’s books as well as being a skill Qin player and artist.

I immediately purchased copies of her novels Peach Blossom Pavilion and Petals from the Sky and a grand love affair with her work began. Last summer I was overjoyed to pick up a copy of her book Song of the Silk Road and this year I was over the moon that she actually asked ME to review her latest novel, Skeleton Women. As a longtime fan you can imagine how exciting it was to be personally contacted by one of my favorite authors and to receive an advance copy of the book that I was eagerly awaiting. The works of Mingmei Yip have always captivated me and before I even read the first page I was certain that Skeleton Women would surely enthrall me from start to finish.

In 1930s China, the underworld of mafia was at its peak. Femme fatales (also known as skeleton women) were the secret weapons of gangs, so named because their charms and beauty often brought death upon their victims who became nothing more than skeletons.

Beautiful lounge singer Camilla wasn’t always a rich and respected woman. Her humble beginnings were that of an orphan who was later adopted by Brother Wang (head of the Red Demons gang) for the sole purpose of luring Master Lung (head of the Flying Dragons gang) to his death.

When she is forced to become Master Lung’s mistress she meets two other skeleton women, Rainbow (the head of a gossip column) and Shadow (a magician who rivals Camilla for Master Lung’s affections.) Both of these skeleton women cause Camilla to be on high alert, for her safety and status are soon at risk. But the biggest threat to her mission is Jinying, Master Lung’s son who has returned from Harvard to not only fall for Camilla but to capture her affections in return. The only way that Camilla can escape is to plot the demise of Master Lung, but at what cost is she willing to sacrifice for true love?

As always, Mingmei Yip did not disappoint. Skeleton Women is a dynamic novel jam-packed with action, suspense, romance, lust, scheming, and twists and turns. This was an incredibly well written novel that not only captures the setting of China but it also manages to pull you into the 1930s and make you feel like you are an outsider looking in on the gangs of Shanghai.

The characters are not only complex but also have the ability to evoke an array of emotions in the reader. Some of the characters of lovable, some loathsome, and some are in between. The plot for this book is original and mesmerizes the reader from page one to the very last sentence. Mingmei Yip proves once again why she is a master of creative writing, suspense, and romance.

Chrissy fell in love with books at an early age. It all started with Judi Barrett’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. At the tender age of five she decided that she wanted to be a writer. Later, she graduated to books like A Wrinkle in Time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and the Goosebumps series, participating avidly in her school’s Book It program. High school brought on new challenges and loves. She began writing for the school’s newspaper and literary magazine. The works of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson quickly overran her bookshelves. But when Chrissy was introduced to the world of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, a grand love affair was set in motion. She is an avid reader of romance, urban fantasy, horror, erotica, and cozy mysteries. After working for the city library for six years and being surrounded by the works of greatly admired authors, she decided to devote her life to writing full time and hasn’t looked back since. When she is not devouring book after book, Chrissy loves to cook, bake, volunteer at the local animal shelter, and feed her addiction for horror movies. She lives in Maryland with her family and beloved pets.
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