|Digital List Price:||$3.99|
Save $0.56 (14%)
Spirits Abroad (ebook) Kindle Edition
Kindle Feature Spotlight
|Length: 290 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Matchbook Price: $0.00
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Try Kindle Countdown Deals
Explore limited-time discounted eBooks. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you want to get a taste of Zen Cho’s work without investing in an entire collection, many of these stories are available for free online. In “Prudence and the Dragon,” a Dragon visits London and becomes enamored with Prudence, an ordinary med student. “The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life” is a sequel story focusing on Prudence’s friend Angela. The only other connected stories in the collection are “起狮，行礼 (Rising Lion–The Lion Bows)“ and “七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum),” which follow a lion dance trope in England which uses their dances to perform exorcisms. “The Four Generations of Chang E” is a science fiction story about immigration and the different generations of one family that immigrates to the moon and assimilates (or tries not to assimilate) with the local lunar people. I’ll admit to being a bit confused by all the women being named “Chang E.” Was each successive daughter given the same name, or was this supposed to be the same woman somehow? Then again, the ambiguity only makes the story more interesting.
The last short story also available online is “The House of Aunts,” the story of Ah Lee, a young Malaysian vampire who lives with her five aunties. When Ah Lee begins to fall in love with a boy at school, the aunties are disapproving and full of dire warnings, but Ah Lee wants a life apart from them. There’s a free audio version available at PodCastle.
Other stories are only available in print, and some are specific to this collection. “The First Witch of Damansara” is the opening story, in which a young woman who’s immigrated to England has to return home for her grandmother’s funeral. Complicating matters, Vivian’s grandmother was a witch and her sister has inherited the power. Oh, and her grandmother’s spirit is hanging around and emotionally blackmailing the family to try and get the burial she wants.
“First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia” might be the funniest story in the collection, despite the title. A forum on minorities in Malaysia is derailed when an orang bunian (a mythological invisible race that lives in the jungle) arrives wanting to discuss invisible people’s rights. Oh, and the failures of the modern education system.
Probably my favorite story of the collection is also the darkest: “The Fish Bowl.” Su Yin is a student under intense pressure to perform perfectly. She’s struggling to get by when she encounters a magic koi fish. The fish will grant her wishes, but in return, she’ll have to pay in pain and blood. It’s clearly a story about academic anxiety and self harm, and it’s one I related to a tad too much. My high school could be incredibly intense when it came to academics, and it wasn’t until after graduation that I realized so many of peers were also having mental health trouble. For all its fantastical elements, “The Fish Bowl” was a little too real.
My second favorite story is “The Mystery of the Suet Swain,” which deals with stalking and harassment. Sham and Belinda are both Malaysians attending college in England and are best of friends. When someone named “Suet” begins posting photos of Belinda online, Sham is determined to get to the bottom of it and support her friend.
“Balik Kampung (Going Back)” tells of a hungry ghost returning home to see her husband and finding out why she died. In “The Earth Spirit’s Favorite Anecdote,” an earth spirit has a series of exasperating encounters with her landlord. “One-Day Travelcard for Fairyland” takes the English boarding school setting, populates it with international students, and puts them in battle with local fairies. In “Liyana,” a girl is born from a pineapple. “Jebet Dies” is my least favorite story in the collection. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s about; it makes no sense to me. Maybe I just don’t have the cultural background to understand it?
Cho uses content warnings on all her stories with options to skip to the next one if you so choose. I decided to read them all, but I appreciated the warning. It might have been useful if I was having a bad anxiety day. Anyway, this was a fantastic collection that I highly recommend.
Witty, delicious and enormously fun, this was my favorite short story collection in years. Zen Cho's voice is entirely her own, but the closest comparison I can come up with is Connie Willis for the wonderful combination of humor and intelligent fantasy.
Usually when I read a single-author short story collection, I need to take breaks between reading each story. This time, though, I just devoured the whole book and had a wonderful time doing it. There are stories that are incredibly funny and also surprisingly romantic, like "The Earth Spirit's Favorite Anecdote"; there are stories that are dark, truly scary AND funny and sweet, like "The House of Aunts"; there are a few stories that are just heartbreaking. Most of them made me laugh, but a couple made me nearly cry. Out of the 15 short stories in the collection, the very last 3 were the only ones I didn't thoroughly enjoy, but even those had a lot of good points and might work better for other people.
I will definitely be re-reading this collection many times in the future - it was just so smart AND so much fun - a wonderful combination!
The House of Aunts went beyond my admittedly unformed expectations in its depiction of undead Chinese Aunties doing their best to raise a nice girl. There's not much I can say about it without spoiling the plot, but Cho's grasp of the fantastic is amazing and I didn't see any of it coming.
Prudence and the Dragon was another favorite. It is, as it sounds, the story of a love affair between a young woman and a dragon, but again, nothing about it is quite what you'd expect.
I read and reread The Four Generations of Chang E, I don't know how many times. Only that it's not enough. Chang E's tale of Luner immigration and finding a place in her family, in any world, is both inspiring and pathetic, a heartbreaking mystery of travel and race and rabbits. Just really a lot of rabbits.
Balik Kampung also takes a couple of close reads to fully appreciate the humor and truths of a being a hungry ghost, of spending eternity attached to a personal demon.
Nearly all of the stories are funny in some way. I laughed even more than I cried, and I did cry some. The writing is tight and controlled, every word serves a purpose and no space is wasted. Cho is purely brilliant with inspiration, talent, and technique equally at her command, and there isn't a dud story in the collection.