Title: Thirteen Orphans
Author: Jane Lindskold
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Brenda is wrong.
A father-daughter weekend turns into a nightmare when Brenda's father is magically attacked before her eyes. Brenda soon learns that her ancestors once lived in world of smoke and shadows, of magic and secrets.
When that world's Emperor was overthrown, the Thirteen Orphans fled to our earth and hid their magic system in the game of mah-jong. Each Orphan represents an animal from the Chinese Zodiac. Brenda's father is the Rat. And her polished, former child-star "aunt", Pearl--that eminent lady is the Tiger.
Only a handful of Orphans remain to stand against their enemies. The Tiger, the Rooster, the Dog, the Rabbit . . . and Brenda Morris. Not quite the Rat, but not quite human either.
With this book it was easy for me to distinguish what I liked and what I didn't. I became really enthusiastic about certain elements and not so much for others. The elements I really liked was the originality of almost everything in this book. The magic, flashy and based on the game Mah Jong, was really creative and clever. I learned so much about the game while Brenda was learning to use her magic skills. The characters were also well done; even though there was a large cast (in my opinion), each character was distinct and not overly caricatured through their zodiac sign. The story was good and original since it embodied Chinese mythology, culture and history into a modern setting. I don't know much about any of those so I assume the author did her research but also took some liberties.
What bothered me the most was the fact that there wasn't much action. The novel is long and there are only a handful of parts that really stood out for me action-wise. But when there was action it was awesome. Also, what became a trend was the amount of dialogue in the novel. The characters talk, and talk, and talk. It is interesting for sure, but I would have preferred more action. It would have made the 500 pages go by a lot faster.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and it has left a lasting impression on me. I will never look at a game of Mah-Jong the same again. I recommend this to people who enjoy urban fantasy, especially if they are looking for something other than vampires and werewolves. This book is the first in a trilogy, the next being Nine Gates and then Five Odd Honors, so be prepared to continue. The novel ends but it is clearly a beginning to a trilogy.B+