City of Sand. Tianxia Bachang. Random House Children’s Books. November 2017. 256 pp. ISBN#: 9780553524109.
Tianyi is an unusual girl who doesn’t want to do anything that other “good” girls do. Unknown to her family, her grandfather left her half a book about what westerners would call “grave robbing.” Then she studies the art of feng shui meant to guide her to correct tombs that will provide blessings in wealth rather than curses all too possible in other gravesites. In China, after all, there are ghosts, snakes, and other nefarious creatures that could kill quickly, neatly and without anyone else knowing.
From the beginning, Tianyi and her friend, Kai, work well together. Kai may not have the academic skills Tianyi has from her grandfather’s book but he is an adventurer and can be trusted with any sharing. Their first encounters with ghosts and/or reanimated corpses is hair-raising but fun that readers will love. After a while, they realize they need to travel with others of like mind and even better skills. They thereafter join the archeological expedition of a Professor Chen and the American who is financing the project, as well the Professor’s entourage, to find Jingjue City, one spot on the Silk Road sacred tombs may be found with accompanying cultural artifacts.
No spoilers here! Suffice to say that numerous adventures follow with some truth, some lies, and some betrayals pitching the action forward. In some ways, the action goes nowhere, with little of importance discovered at first, and this may frustrate some readers. But for the most part, the this is a Young Adult novel for those who love to read about myths, legends, adventures and foreign locales. A bit of a vague ramble about life in a different world few of us could imagine yet get the chance to enter in these contemporary legendary pages!