Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guest Post- Mingmei Yip - The Witch's Market - Review

Today I'm happy to bring back an author who's become a favorite. Her novels are a mix of fantasy and realism and all have taken me to faraway exotic places. The Witch's Market is no different, it's fun, fantastical and genuine.
Please enjoy Mingmei's guest post where she gives a bit more insight into the inspiration and the experience of The Witch's Market. Then I'll give my review.

ISBN-13: 9781617733239
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: 11-24-2015
Length: 352pp
Pre-Order It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound


From the author of Secret of a Thousand Beauties and Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a beautifully written novel of self-discovery and intrigue.
 Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.
 When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.

From the Publisher
 “Inspiring, courageous story...Yip's prose is simple yet descriptive, immersing the reader in the sights, sounds and smells of rural and urban China.”  
Booklist on Secret of a Thousand Beauties
 “A unique and enthralling style…flawless.”
–Baltimore Books Examiner on The Nine Fold Heaven
 “Surprising and often funny….Part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale.”
Publishers Weekly on Song of the Silk Road

In the words of Mingmei Yip
The Witch’s Market, my seventh novel, published by Kensington Books, was fun to write and I think it’ll be a fun read too!
This novel is about witches, shamans, medium, and fortune-tellers – fascinating characters for me.  Ever since my teens I’ve been interested in things metaphysical, especially fortune telling. I didn’t think of writing a novel about these sorts of people until I read an article with the same title by my favorite author, a Taiwan woman who called herself Echo. She made her home in Africa and led an extremely interesting and adventures life, traveling all over the world.
In a newspaper column Echo described her life with her husband in the Sahara desert next to a cemetery – the only house she could afford. Close to being broke, her wedding gift was a camel’s skull – she became known for her weird tastes. As a substitute for flowers, her wedding head-gear was celery leaves. Transcultural marriages are common now, but thirty years ago, a Chinese woman who married a Spanish man, eight years younger than her and living with him in Africa was very rare and exotic. Echo’s tales about her life with him made her a household name in Taiwan.
When I first read Echo’s article, entitled ‘The Witch’s Market’ and set in Bolivia, I was so struck by the magical title that I immediately decided that this would be the theme of my next novel. However, my Witch’s Market turned out not to be a re-telling of Echo’s journey, but that of a Chinese-American shamaness’ stay in the Canary Islands where she encountered a widow, a man living in an old castle, a medium, and witches. Along the way she becomes intrigued with a handsome young craftsman. In an exotic land these characters all come together to create magic.
The Witch’s Market was fun to write, but not easy. To keep things moving along, I also threw in a murder mystery – and I had to solve it to be able to finish the novel. Before I was done, like my characters, I endured headaches and nightmares. However, the worst nightmare was not about ghosts or underworld journeys but that I’d miss my deadline before I could decide who was the murderer!  

      As a child I already heard about channeling the dead. An article about Echo describes how she, herself a psychic, went on an underworld tour to ask her deceased teacher for advice. Her teacher communicated with her by automatic writing. The proof was that it came not as Echo’s handwriting, but his.  Somehow, her teacher in the other world used her hand to write his letter. This was hard to fake since the two had completely different penmanship. I was so intrigued by this that I did research about it in Taiwan, which I used to write my chapter entitled, “The Underground Tour.”
       The Witch’s Market is about witches, but also about shamans, and those with other strange talents. Though supernatural, it is really about human nature: – greed and lust, but most importantly, love and kindness.
       I hope you’ll enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.

My Review
The Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip’s inventive page-turner captivated me from page one. Using her unique storytelling voice she mixes Chinese myths, legends and beliefs with an evocative present day literary tale that includes a cryptic mystery. This she delivers through her prose like narrative that’s spot on for depicting her exotic locales and her imaginative, off the wall characters including her enigmatic, fanciful and realistic heroine, Eileen. Her innovative blending of cultures, the lessons in Chinese witchcraft and the dreamlike, Alice down the rabbit hole feel makes this adult fairytale the perfect choice for any fan of Magical-Realism.
On her 33rd birthday Eileen Chen decided to become a witch. She hailed from a long line of witches as her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother practiced the art. She knew the basics of witchcraft taught to her by those women but instead of practicing Eileen decided to become a scholar of Shamanism, got her Ph.D. and took an assistant professorship at San Francisco State University. Her boss had been urging her to publish a book on Shamanism and western witches, which just might get her a tenured position. So deciding to combine both goals the choice of where to go to find out all about witchcraft conveniently came to her in a dream, which led her to the mystical and mysterious Canary Islands.
With the blessings of her boss and her younger sister, plus a begrudged blessing from her sometimes boyfriend Eileen took off for an epic, hopefully life changing adventure.
What happens when she gets there is the stuff of fairytales.

Mingmei's other works
For Adults

 For Children

Connect with Mingmei - Website - Facebook - Twitter

MEET Mingmei:Mingmei Yip was born in China, received her Ph.D. from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and held faculty appointments at the Chinese University and Baptist University in Hong Kong. She's published five books in Chinese, written several columns for seven major Hong Kong newspapers, and has appeared on over forty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and the U.S. She immigrated to the United States in 1992, where she now lives in New York City.

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  1. This looks so good! I think I might have to pick this up, it just looks and sounds so interesting!

    1. She's a very talented author and her novels are off the beaten path. Thanks Ali

  2. I have never heard of her before. However it sounds like a fascinating read. Love all the covers to the books too.

  3. Great find, Debbie, I am loving all these Chinese culture/themed books that are coming out or are being featured. Joy Luck Club needs more company lol

    1. Exactly Braine and I've enjoyed Mingmei for years. She's a real treasure