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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Friday, October 6, 2017

ARC Review: The Ninja's Illusion by Gigi Pandian

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1635112516/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=onderherose-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1635112516&linkId=efaa4f0a8709a06c3b3cb92f78841054
Please Note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.  Also, I have linked the book cover to Amazon.  If you buy the book through this link, I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
A fabled illusion performed by a stage magician who claims to possess real supernatural powers. A treasure from the colonial era in India when international supremacies vied for power. A phantom trading ship lost over 200 years ago. And a ninja whose murderous intentions in present-day Japan connect the deeds of a long-dead trader who was much more than he seemed…

When Jaya travels from San Francisco to Japan with her stage magician best friend Sanjay—a.k.a. The Hindi Houdini—for his Japanese debut, she jumps at the chance to pursue her own research that could solve a tantalizing centuries-old mystery.

With the colorful autumn leaves of historic Kyoto falling around her, Jaya soon loses sight of what’s real and what’s a deception. A mysterious ninja attempts sabotage on Sanjay’s trick, along with Japan’s most controversial magician, Akira. Ancient folklore blurs the lines between illusion and reality when a magician’s assistant appears to be a kitsune, a mythical fox spirit. As tricks escalate to murder, Jaya and her friends must unravel secrets hidden in the ancient capital of Japan, before one of their own becomes the next victim.


Review:
Over the past year, I have become a huge fan of author Gigi Pandian, having read all the books in her series called The Accidental Alchemist.  This is my first time reading a book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt series, and I didn't know what to expect.  I loved that I didn't have to start with the first book in order to enjoy this latest novel.  The setting is so compelling, the characters so well-developed, and the action so thrilling, that I was fully immersed in the experience.  I loved it!


What I Liked:
Setting:
As someone who lived in Japan, and has taken my family to Kyoto just a few years ago, I was very impressed with the level of detail about Japan and it's culture in this book.  There are so many small touches that help to make the novel's setting authentic.  From the tiny portions of food served to explaining the subtle insult of being called a gaijin (foreigner), the author gets everything right.  

I loved her use of all the city's temples and shrines as a backdrop for this book.  I have been to many of these places and her descriptions are spot on.

I also enjoyed how the Americans in the book were wide-eyed with wonder seeing Japan for the first time.  It really is a place that is so different from the United States that the first-time visitor is often overwhelmed.  

Diversity of Characters:
I got a huge grin on my face when I read that Jaya Jones, the main character, was just about five feet tall.  Yes, I am that height, and I loved that nobody gave her grief over how short she was.  Tamarind, Jaya's librarian friend, is tall and has an "ample" frame.  When someone is presented as short (or big) in a book, it is usually as part of a comic element.  Thank you, Ms. Pandian, for showing that people come in all shapes and sizes, and for not treating people's physical attributes as a joke.

Characters:
As I have not read any of the previous books in the series, I went in without any knowledge of the central characters.  But that was not a problem because the author took the time to give a good amount of exposition around each person.  I found Jaya and her group of friends to be smart and fun, but also flawed.  

Jaya is a modern-day Indiana Jones.  A History professor who also is passionate about uncovering  mysteries of antiquity, Jaya uses her research skills to uncover the story behind the event.  I liked that she was accomplished in her profession without being perfect.  Jaya is human and makes mistakes.  She also owns up to her errors and seeks out the help of those she trusts.

Sanjay (Jaya's best friend) is a magician who goes to Japan to ride on the coattails of the island nation's best known magician, Akira.  He is an imperfect person who's ambition, at times, overrides common sense.  But he is also a loyal friend who worried for Jaya's safety with a killer on the loose, and I could see why Jaya adored him. 

Story:
The story centers around a magic trick called "the world's greatest illusion", the Indian Rope Trick.  As the story progresses, we learn about the historical context of this real-life magic trick.  It's a great way to explore the question of an historical narrator's reliability (or in other words: fake news!). 

Of course, there is a murder as someone is out to stop the show.  Or is there another motive?  Jaya becomes concerned for Sanjay and begins to research one of the historical figures who claimed to have seen the trick.  Could knowing more about this long dead person lead to the modern killer?

This really was a solid whodunit, and I didn't know for sure who the murderer was until the end.  I enjoyed that the clues were there for the reader to figure it out for themselves.  The author didn't throw in a detail at the last minute that would change who the killer is.  

I also liked that Jaya didn't try to solve everything solo.  She knows her limits and seeks the help of her friends, and the police.  Jaya is not James Bond, and she accepts this.  Nevertheless, there is plenty of action as the characters become entangled in the quest to find the murderer (and maybe even uncover some treasure!).

What I Didn't Like:

                
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Rating:  




Release Date:  October 3rd, 2017

Genre:  Mystery

Publisher:   Henery Press

Length:  288 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  A solid whodunit with the added bonus of being set in Japan!  This is a highly entertaining book with great insights into Japanese culture. 


 
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