Reviewed by K.C. Finn – 5 stars

 

The Opium Lord’s Daughter is a historical fiction novel penned by author Robert Wang, which is set during the First Opium War of the nineteenth century. Told from the perspectives of Chinese and English participants, this compelling drama focuses on the intricacies and corruption which take place during the trade dealings with England and China and the opium trade which spreads around the world as a result. Our central heroine is Su-Mei, the title character, whose bold defiance of her father’s traditionalism sets her on an exciting and dangerous course to find her own path amid the good and bad people on either side of the war.

Written for adults due to its graphic content, this is a deeply engaging work which does that magical thing where it entertains but also educates at the same time. I knew very little about this period of Chinese history prior to reading, and Su-Mei’s character makes it easy to see the injustices of the time, thanks to her more modern sensibilities. Each scene comes alive with fantastic descriptive work and detailing from author Robert Wang, making for an atmospheric read which really does transport you to the time and place. Character development also plays a huge role, and despite the size of the cast of the novel, each person has due time given to them so that we learn their motivations and involvement with the trade and the war itself. Overall, The Opium Lord’s Daughter is a superb work which will satisfy any historical fiction fan looking for a new avenue to explore.