So that's quite enough of both, and I'd like to comment more properly on Silver Phoenix.
In a lot of ways I found this book a very interesting read, as I could identify my own writing to some extent with the book's writing, and as I read it I mentally started making minor adjustments to the writing style. I think that's what makes it so difficult for me to review this book — because I keep thinking of it as a writer rather than a reader.
I enjoyed this book. I didn't get right into the first chapter or two, but once I was in I was in! Sometimes it can be difficult to identify or even like the heroine or hero, especially if it's written by someone with little writing experience. No such problem here: I fell right in with the heroine, even if I have to admit to preferring the hero's sidekick to the actual hero.
Silver Phoenix follows Ai Ling, a girl living in traditional ancient China, who goes on a quest to rescue her captive father. Along the way she has to fight demons upon demons, learn to control minds, and meet goddesses, a race of three-eyed men, and the odd poison-spitting fish or two.
The background of China was well set up, and nothing about it jarred — other than Ai Ling's willingness to buck tradition after only a cursory attempt to conform. I think a girl raised in those traditions would have been much more docile — but that girl wouldn't have been nearly as interesting a character as Ai Ling.
Toward the middle of the novel, although I wasn't tempted to put the book down, it seemed to slow a little to me; things were happening that didn't seem relevant or necessary to the plot. But that was quickly passed over, and we headed into the final action scenes, complete with a good build-up of tension.
I found the climax somewhat... anti-climactic.
But I really want to find out what happens to the main characters next. For a lot of books — for example, John Grisham books — once I've finished them and found out how the plot ends, I don't care about the characters any more. My favourite authors — such as Juliet Marillier — make me care about the characters enough that I want to keep reading on for the characters' sakes. Not because the plot is unresolved, but because I just want to keep reading about the character.
Although author Cindy Pon does leave some plot points unresolved, the cunning witch! That is, the plot is neatly tied up; but the characters still have journeys to take, issues to try and straighten out for themselves; and I loved the fact that the ending wasn't textbook.
The ending, in fact, perfectly paved the way for the combined sequel/prequel she's writing (a difficult feat!): a book I can't wait to order.