Ashley Kelley, The US Review of Books
Shaman, A Tara Adventure
“So I thought I have been sold like cattle to the highest bidder."
Blair's novel depicts the journey of a young girl who is forced to burden herself with her family's financial situation. Arielle becomes a courtesan to support her family after her father suffers an unfortunate stroke that leaves him without any control of his body. During her training as a courtesan, Arielle witnesses an attack on another courtesan. This event prompts her to take steps to learn self defense and ultimately into studies of shamanism.
Under the instruction of Wu and in her new identity of Tara, Arielle is transformed. Her coming-of-age story exhibits a thrilling novel under historical pretenses. Once trained, Tara challenges herself to take a mission to bring a vicious American murderer of a young American girl in Peking to justice in Shanghai.
Blair creates a very fast-paced novel that employs a fluid progression. This approach turns a slow and emotional coming-of-age story into an exciting adventure. Without the pace, the book would not have been able to progress Arielle's transition into Tara with such efficiency. Even though the novel discusses graphic and disturbing content in nature, Blair does not go into excruciating details. By doing so, character developments are stronger and more memorable. Even in simple interactions, such as interactions with Arielle's aunt, the characters presented leave an impression. The author’s novel depicts a tremendously evolved story that encompasses the old world and the new world, just as Shanghai did in the 1930s. Through Blair's use of historical references, character development, and pace, Arielle's story is truly unique and perfect for someone who enjoys thrillers.
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