Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review: Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.

That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.

As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.

I have been interested in Korean culture for awhile. When I saw Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews, I knew I had to read it. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. This book had so many feels!

The world building was done beautifully. Andrews did a fantastic job of recreating Korea from the past. It was easy to picture being right beside Jae-hee and Anna at all times. It's easy to see the author, William Andrews, put in a lot of time doing his research.

The pacing started off a little slow at the very beginning, but it soon picked up quickly. Before I knew it, I was immersed into the life of Jae-hee, and what a life she had led! I found myself always wanting to know what had happened to Jae-hee next. Because of that, Daughters of the Dragon was so easy to read and hard to put down!

The plot was very interesting and based on facts to a point. It speaks about comfort women for the Japanese (which I had never even known about until Daughters of the Dragon), the splitting of Korea, and more. I was interested to know more about that two headed dragon comb that seems to be the main focal point in Daughters of the Dragon. The story line around this is so interesting!

I loved the characters so much! I loved how strong Jae-hee was during and after everything she endured. I felt like I knew her throughout the book and as if she was speaking to me, telling me her story. I liked Anna and how open she was to everything. All the characters were beautifully written, even the minor characters. I definitely felt like I was right there in the book every step of the way along with each character.

There are themes of violence, rape, and death, but these are essential to the story line. Without them, there would be no book. As I've stated before, this book is based on somewhat on facts. History can be very ugly, and Daughters of the Dragon shows it. It is obvious the author tried to write these scenes as tastefully as he could.

I would recommend Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews to others. I'd say this is probably a book for those 17+ due to the violent themes throughout the book. However, it is written so beautifully. The whole story definitely comes alive as you're reading it. Because of Daughters of the Dragon, I will be researching Korean history and the comfort women.

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