A big thanks to Lynette from Asia Bookroom, who kindly emailed me to let me know Ghost of Ping-Ling had a 4 star review in the summer edition of Bookseller and Publisher Magazine (not to mention scanning it for me and sending it so I could actually read it). The fact that she told me it had 4 stars made it a much less nerve-wracking experience, but it still made my heart thump to read it. I have to say I'm really delighted to have this as a first review -- Rebecca Butterworth has understood the intent of the book well, and the bit about the descriptions appealing more to boys made me laugh (now I'm tempted to put a snot-flicking scene into book 2).
I hope I'm not committing any heinous copyright violations by reproducing it here...
Dillen is alone, orphaned while travelling with his father in a far-off land and raised there by a spiteful priest. Without a job or a home, it looks like Dillen will remain there forever, until a mysterious Easterner appears who wants him for an important duty: he must find Hallegat, the mana-lord -- a man from Dillen's own land -- and help him on his quest, for a great reward. To succeed, he will have to outsmart and outrun the puk-do, half-men half-pig creatures bent on Dillen's destruction. Even when Dillen finds others who will join him on his journey, the quest becomes increasingly dangerous -- as the puk-do become the least of the party's troubles. This is the first book from author Peter Cooper, a fast-paced pure adventure story packed with new dangers around every corner. The prose is well pitched to readers aged 10 years and up, and the characters are just the right mix of complicated, heroic and humerous. This is a story that future Tolkien readers will lap up, and the book leads well into the second of three parts. Cooper is an excellent storyteller for boys and girls, though the descriptions -- which are deliberately ugly, for example, of the smelly, spit-dripping puk-do -- may appeal more to boys.
(Rebecca Butterworth is a freelance writer and book reviewer living in Melbourne.)