Monday, November 23, 2015



Chanced upon a series at the library. Six books. Couldn't resist them. Of the Yangtze river and ghosts. Written by Xu Yunfeng, the series is titled 'Yangtze Ghost'. Totally self-explanatory, it contains everything fun and fluffy. Borrowed all six books. The library is fantastic that way. The calendar was packed, and there were many books to be read first, but time was found to inhale them within ten days.

The stories are sited in Yichang (宜昌位于湖北省西部地区) in Hubei province, the stories swirl around the river since the Three Gorges Dam is within its district of Yiling (夷陵區). Although in the ancient times, the entire Yichang was known as 'Yiling'. Cue 'Battle of Yiling' as recorded in the Three Kingdoms. (三国时代夷陵之戰,又称猇亭之战,清代時避諱改稱彝陵之战。是三国时期蜀漢君主劉備對東吳發動的戰役。)

Since schooldays, the protagonist (or rather the author in this case since he used his own name), Xu Yun Feng (徐雲風) and his old friend and classmate Wang Kun Peng (王鲲鵬) are into folklore, supernatural happenings and history. They've kept in touch over the years and re-connect over a series of strange happenings. Xu is an unambitious young man who seems to have a natural ability to see ghosts and be drawn into the netherworld, but he isn't at all keen to become a medium or priest. Readers are told that Xu, while not brilliant in his studies or career, has a life that isn't easily extinguished by erm...voodoo, ghosts or the supernatural. Wang is an accidental lawyer who is more serious about his hobby of dabbling as a priest, shaman, medium or whatever it's termed.

The six books spanned roughly four years, detailing their experiences with the supernatural, the crucial acquaintanceship of secretive sects and its leaders, Master Zhao Yi Er (趙一二,又趙建國), Master Jin Xuan Zi (金鏇子), and student Jin Zhong (金仲). We read about Wang's eventual move to becoming a full-fledged medium under Master Zhao's tutelege, then to work for Old Yan (老嚴) who heads a mysterious national board not unlike S.H.I.E.L.D or probably ATCU. We also learnt of Xu's later acceptance of his psychic abilities and how circumstances forced him to learn the trade. Plenty of ghosts to subdue and all that. The stories traced the murder and death of Master Zhao, changes in Wang and Xu's friendship, their disagreements over how to handle matters of revenge and old and new feuds, etc. The innocence lost, and how reality and fate hit them squarely. And how everything went back on the pre-destined path, and how Wang reluctantly became a medium who embraced his full psychic abilities to transcend the world of the living and the netherworld.

I was enthralled. Was totally caught up in their worlds. Actually declined a lunch and a session of whisky to catch up on the books. No regrets! I didn't bother to analyze the mentions of classic literary novels and its various theories of supernatural incidences, Taoist chants or whatever. Unnecessary. I don't want to know. The series is awesome, if you're into this genre.

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