A story set during the Ming Dynasty (1500s AD) in China follows twins Mei and Yun, 12, on a quest to save their grandfather after he’s arrested for cursing the emperor’s second son. The duo—adventurous and intuitive Mei, cautious and scholarly Yun—journey first to the cursed City of Ashes, where its inhabitants are trapped in a ghostlike state, and then to the Imperial City, where they must sneak into the enchanted library and search old records for proof that a man accused of treason years before was innocent. It is his wife, Lotus, who cursed the City of Ashes, and it is that curse that has now seeped beyond the city’s boundaries, causing all the trouble. The twins’ encounters with Princess Zilla, a daughter of the emperor, and Fu-Fu, 9, a lonely and angry relative of the imperial family, factor into their planning, but most significant is their realization that the wisps of color they’ve always been able to see around people are dreams, the essence of which can be collected. A contemporary omniscient narrator (in the form of Jade Rabbit) recounts this adventure-filled tale with its notable characterizations.
©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
CCBC Age Recommendation: Ages 8-11
Age Range: Grades 3-5 (Ages 8-10) Grades 6-8 (Ages 11-13)
Subjects: 16th Century Chinese and Chinese Americans Dreams Fantasy Historical Fiction Journeys and Quests Siblings Supernatural
Diversity subject: Asian
Publish Year: 2021
CCBC Location: Fiction, Schmidt