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Contemporary Fantasy Review: Chasing Dragons by Douglas A. Jaffe

Chasing Dragons by Douglas A. Jaffe

review copy from the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Sebastian is the owner of a bookstore café in Hong Kong who provides informal counseling services to an array of offbeat characters. His quiet life is suddenly upended when he meets Chloe, and their relationship takes a startling turn, as it begins to parallel the relationship of a pair of mythical dragons from Chinese history. The lovers struggle with questions of mortality and immortality, before a choice is made that pulls them apart.

From the safety of his bookstore, Sebastian observes the world around him through his books and his counseling clients, whose problems range from infidelity to the challenges of dealing with an overbearing mother. Living within the frenzied metropolis that is Hong Kong, Sebastian tries his best to live a quiet, predictable life.

Unbeknownst to him, there is a parallel story unfolding about Chi Wen and Zhao Chen, two dragons from Chinese mythology. While initially distinct from Sebastian’s modern life, this alternative reality begins to filter through and he finds himself increasingly subjected to visions and memories of a life he does not remember.

Sebastian has a chance meeting with Chloe one afternoon and they share an immediate attraction and familiarity that quickly draws them together. As the relationship deepens, Sebastian’s visions and dreams of Chi Wen and Zhao Chen intensify, and he begins to lose his grip on his sanity.

Reality and mythology blur and Sebastian is forced to question his own life and his relationship with Chloe. As the modern and mythical worlds start to intersect, Sebastian is drawn back into an ancient battle of wills. Solving the mystery of his frightening visions leads him to a choice that will throw his life into turmoil and potentially destroy his humanity.

Amazon kindle US($2.99)/UK(£1.93)


* * *
 You might consider me biased because I love anything to do with Asia, but I really liked this book.

It's very unhurried, contemplative and full of wisdom. It's steeped in Chinese mythology and at the same time it observes present day life in Hong Kong.

There are two parallel plots.

1.  Sebastian runs his coffee and book shop, acts as a psychologist or a willing ear for his wealthy clients talking about their life and problems, and falls in love with mysterious charismatic Chloe, while helping his friends to create a documentary about dragons.

2. A story of Chi Wen and Zhao Chen, a dragon couple in ancient China who love each other and battle for humanity in very different ways.

You get bits from the second plot, but the first plot dominates the book and becomes inexplicably interconnected with the story of two dragons.

I really loved Sebastian, his dorkiness and certain nerdy attitude to life, and I also adored his chemistry with Chloe. I enjoyed his conversations with people an insight he offered them. He was alive and imperfect.

I wasn't feeling much for the dragons and I also think that the author ended the book too soon, just when the tension started building. Although the conclusion is very logical and in character, it just felt like giving up. There were plenty of great characters and subplots which could have developed into something awesome, but it wasn't meant to be.

However, it was still a lovely story, and I would recommend it to any fan of Asian culture.

* * *
Коротко скажу, что любителям азиатской культуры книга придётся по вкусу также как она понравилась и мне.

В Погоне за Драконами - книга неспешная, созерцательная, мудрая и интересная. Она состоит из двух отдельных сюжетов, необъяснимо переплетающихся друг с другом.

Первый сюжет доминирует, повествуя о жизни Себастьяна, владельца кафе и книжного магазина в Гонгконге. Себастьян успешно ведёт свой бизнес, занимается психоанализом для своих богатых клиентов, помогает друзьям снять документальный фильм о драконах в китайской мифологии и встречает загадочную Хлои, в которую влюбляется.

Второй сюжет рассказывает о паре древних драконов Чин Вэн и Жао Чен и их борьбе за человечество очень разными путями.

Несмотря на то, что В Погоне за Драконами мне очень понравилась, я не могла отделаться от мысли, что концовка хоть и была характерным, логическим заключением истории, напомнила литературное опускание рук. Себастьян и остальные герои просто сдались и не опротестовали решение одного персонажа. К тому же, книга закончилась на самом напряжённом моменте в окружении довольно-таки уникальных характеров, потенциал которых автор предпочёл в этот раз не использовать.

Книгу всё-равно советую с небольшими критическими замечаниями.


Blodeuedd said...

The rest, eh, the dragon couple, cool :D

Micheline said...

Oh this sounds like something I could really enjoy! I love dragons but the idea of Chinese Mythology is really appealing to me...I would love to read more about it! Thanks for the insightful & honest review Kara :)

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