Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Small Shen Small Shen
by Kylie Chan

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth

A Celestial of the Qing Empire, Gold is a child of the Jade Building Block of the World, with the true form of a stone. He is also a mischievous troublemaker, playing jokes on others and not thinking about the consequences. After tricking a price and princess he’s sent to serve the Tiger Lord, unable to take on human form as a punishment. Released after 100 years service, he ends up in Hong Kong.

Jade is the Dragon princess tricked by Gold; she agrees to his release provided he not come near her unless invited. 100 years later she needs his help and asks for a favour, one that has unintended consequences. For interfering in human matters they are sentenced by the Jade Emperor to serve in human form. They work well together and eventually end up serving the Dark Lord.

Xuan Wu is the First Celestial General, second only to the Jade Emperor. Known as the Dark Lord, he is immensely powerful with two True Forms – a turtle and a snake. He is married to Michelle, a human singer. Gold and Jade have a new task; protect Michelle from the demons that would use her to control the Dark Lord.

There’s an interesting story for the plot, with a strong cast of characters and a new twist on demonology. I liked Michelle at first but my opinion quickly changed. I found her to be silly, hysterical, and mean when she viewed her husband’s True Form as monstrous and gets him to promise never to change, which quickly drains his energy. It was also stupid, as draining his energy means he can’t protect her as well as if he had his full strength. He should have been able to change, just not around her, and why marry the poor guy if she couldn’t accept all of him – though a snake, yuck!

Jumping from the present to background from the past, the story is told partly in cartoon strips and partly in written words. The Shen have a deep background and are part of a series, though this is a standalone story. I didn’t like it at first then got pulled into the story. Worth a try if you have never tried graphic novels and are looking for something different.

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: