Series Spotlight: Emma Donahoe Series by Kylie Chan


Series: Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang Books 1-3 (or 1-6 as they follow one another)
Author: Kylie Chan
Publish Date:  2006 – Present

Emma Donahoe is an Australian living in Hong Kong, where she works as a nanny to young Simone, daughter of John Chen – a successful yet odd businessman who is very protective.  The reasons for his odd mannerisms and concern for his daughter become apparent when Emma finds out he is actually a god.  Magic; Gods; Demons; Danger – the dream of every nanny.

These six books comprising two trilogies come together to form a hexology.

The trilogy of trilogies, or nonology, continues with Dark Serpent (Celestial Battle Book 1) and Demon Child (Celestial Battle Book 2) which I am not including in this spotlight, because the third book is not yet released.

It’s no secret that I thoroughly enjoy a good Urban Fantasy novel.  It’s an attractive genre that allows any standard fictional story line to bring in mythological, supernatural elements for flavor and mystery.  Most novels in the genre focus on a character employed in an industry of discovery and danger: cop, detective, private investigator, “finder-of-things” or in a role that caters directly to their specialty such as a professional exorcist.  This makes sense, as it provides an avenue for supernatural events to play a role in the characters life, a reason for them to address them, and an explanation for why they’re capable of doing so.  It can also get boring.

Enter Emma Donahoe.  She’s a nanny.  There’s nothing special about her — at least when the story begins.  That is refreshing. The series also takes place in Hong Kong, a nice departure from the American cities I’m used to reading about in this genre.  I’ve always loved Asian mythology but my knowledge leans toward the Japanese and Indian side – I am less familiar with the Chinese side, and so was very interested in what the author was able to present for the foundation of her world.

World Building.  It is both excellent, and disappointing.  The depth of detail on the mythology and its ties to the natural realm are wonderful, but know that they take up significant page-space.  If you’re not into being presented a Mythology 101 course hidden within an Urban Fantasy novel, be wary.  Unfortunately, for all the greatness the mythology brings to the story, the actual city of Hong Kong feels like an afterthought, a series of nodes representing locations that exist in and of themselves, but aren’t necessarily tied together into a cohesive, sprawling metropolis.

Romance.  Don’t get me started on the romance in this series.  This hexology is arguably as much Romance as Urban Fantasy.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem.  I may sport an epic beard and a satisfying amount of chest hair, but I’m not going to shy away from the romantic story arcs (I winked, but you couldn’t see me.  I don’t know why I winked.  Moving on). Unfortunately, the author is relentless with the cheesiness of the romance.  Some cheese is good.  I like cheese. Unfortunately, this reaches Twilight levels of cheese in the romance at times, and it becomes redundant as each book and the series as a whole drags on.  It’s simply too much, too often for me.

All that said, I still love this series overall, and definitely recommend giving it a try.  The first book absolutely suffers from First Novel Syndrome but if you can make it through, you’ll find a flowing storm of Chinese mythological Urban Fantasy — albeit with a heavy dose of repetitive, in your face cheesy romance to weigh it down.

The entries in the series range from ratings of 2 to 5 with White Tiger being the weakest link. Unfortunately this is also the book that presents a first impression, and the series deserves attention through the second book before a decision is made.

If you liked this book…

You would probably also like the Demon Accords series by John Conroe.  Both feature protagonists who seem to excel at what they do, and take a little while to explain why it is that they’re such naturals.


About Vagabond Vahn

I have a beard.

Posted on June 18, 2015, in Review, Series Spotlight and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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