When his master dies, houseboy Ren is “gifted” to a fellow doctor in a nearby Malaysian town. Unbeknownst to his new employer, Ren has been tasked with one mission: to find his old master’s severed finger and return it to his grave within the mourning period so his soul may be whole.
Meanwhile, Ji Lin is anxious to escape her stepfather’s household and his unpredictable temper. She is apprenticing as a dressmaker but moonlighting as a dance hall girl to pay off her mother’s gambling debts. It is this secret side job that sets off a chain of events connecting her with Ren. Like magnets, their stories converge in what feels like a bygone era.
There is a bit of forbidden love in this book, but it’s not the central theme. Actually, looking back, Ji Lin’s love story is kinda woven throughout, but it somehow feels more about her independence. Even more interesting are the Chinese superstitions and traditions the book reveals.
4 out of 5 stars.