The Girl with Ghost Eyes – M.H. Boroson
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.
When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soul stealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie, translated by Ina Rilke
In this enchanting tale about the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening, two hapless city boys are exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There they meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, they find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.
The Love Knot – Elizabeth Chadwick
In the summer of 1140, Oliver Pascal returns home from a long pilgrimage to discover England ravaged by civil war and his family lands forfeit to the conflict between Henry I’s daughter Mathilda, and her cousin Stephen of Blois, who has seized the crown at her expense. Riding to the Earl of Gloucester’s keep at Bristol, Oliver stumbles upon the aftermath of a mercenary attack on an isolated village. Among the survivors are Richard, an illegitimate royal son and half-brother to the Earl himself, and the boy’s young nurse Catrin. Widowed, stubborn and proud, she has much in common with Oliver, a man still grieving for a wife lost in childbirth.
At Bristol, Catrin meets Ethel, a wise woman and midwife, who begins to train her in the healing arts and is instrumental in bringing Oliver and Catrin together as lovers. But the endurance of that love is threatened by the perils of injury in battle, the danger of childbirth, the upheaval of continuing civil war, and the risk of loving in exchange for nothing but heartbreak. In the end, Catrin must decide where her true loyalties lie.
The Far Pavilions – M.M. Kaye
The Far Pavilions is a story about an Englishman- Ashton Pelham-Martyn -brought up as a Hindu. It is the story of his passionate, but dangerous love for Juli, an Indian princess. It is the story of divided loyalties, of friendship that endures till death, of high adventure and of the clash between East and West.
The Spice Merchant’s Wife – Charlotte Betts
1666. Newly married to a wealthy spice merchant, Kate Finche believes all her dreams of a happy family life are just around the corner until the Great Fire rages through London. She watches in horror as their livelihood goes up in flames, filling the air with the heady scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
As the city is devastated, Kate’s husband Robert is forced to seek employment to ensure their survival, but when he is found drowned, Kate refuses to believe that he has taken his own life. Widowed and penniless, she seeks refuge in The House of Perfume, the home of blind perfumer Gabriel Harte, who awakens Kate’s senses to a whole new world. But as she flees from this forbidden love, her husband’s murderer comes looking for her . . .
A Play of Isaac – Margaret Frazer
The year is 1434, and preparations are under way for the Corpus Christi festival in Oxford, England. Plays are a traditional part of the celebration, and Joliffe and the rest of his troupe are to perform Isaac and Abraham. Until then, their theatrical antics are in demand by a wealthy merchant who offers them an opportunity to ply their trade for room and board.
But when the body of a murdered man is found outside the barn door where the troupe is lodging, Joliffe must raise the curtain on the merchant’s mysterious past and uncover the startling truth behind a murder most foul…
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet – H.P. Wood
May 1904. Coney Island’s newest amusement park, Dreamland, has just opened. Its many spectacles are expected to attract crowds by the thousands, paying back investors many times over.
Kitty Hayward and her mother arrive by steamer from South Africa. When Kitty’s mother takes ill, the hotel doctor sends Kitty to Manhattan to fetch some special medicine. But when she returns, Kitty’s mother has vanished. The desk clerk tells Kitty she is at the wrong hotel. The doctor says he’s never seen her although, she notices, he is unable to look her in the eye.
Alone in a strange country, Kitty meets the denizens of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. A relic of a darker, dirtier era, Magruder’s is home to a forlorn flea circus, a handful of disgruntled Unusuals, and a mad Uzbek scientist. Magruder’s Unusuals take Kitty under their wing and resolve to find out what happened to her mother.
But as a plague spreads, Coney Island is placed under quarantine. The gang at Magruder’s finds that a missing mother is the least of their problems, as the once-glamorous resort town is abandoned to the freaks, anarchists, and madmen.