Book Review: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

September 19, 2012

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip is a novel taking place in China’s underworldduring the beginning of the Century. The majority of the novel takes place in Shanghai’s criminal element, bars and clubs.

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758273533

Book Review Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

My rating for Skeleton Women – 2

Buy this book in paper or electronic format

More Books by Mingmei Yip

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip (website | Facebook |@mingmeiyip) is a well written novel about a Chinese woman who is part of the Flying Dragon gang, however she is actually spying undercover for a rival gang. Many seem to think this novel takes place in the 1930s, however I could not find any reference to that time period in the book.

I was looking forward to reading this book and the beginning was promising, I could immediately tell that it was written with a certain flair. The setup of the protagonist, Camilla, was enticing but the outcome did not fulfill the promise of the tease. I felt as if I walking down the street and following my nose to a small bakery where a fresh loaf of bread was just taken out of the oven.
Only to find out that it was a machine emitting the savory smell to entice to walk into a different store.

That’s how I felt about the book, the author keeps pumping up Camilla’s skills, her beauty, talent, physique, ruthlessness and psychological makeup only for it to be repeated over and over again without much use in the story. Yes, she’s beautiful, smart, ruthless, fit, and talented.
And guess what?
Camilla is also fit, talented, ruthless, smart and beautiful as well as ruthless, talented, smart, fit and beautiful.
And she could kill you in an instant…only that she doesn’t.

Camilla keeps telling us how difficult her job is, only that she has no conscious so she doesn’t care. How she has been trained to kill without remorse, only that she has been undercover for years as mistress of the gang’s leader but didn’t get a chance to kill him.
By the way, every man falls at her feet smitten with love.

To make the story more interesting, I guess, two more skeleton women (those who ruin or take men’s lives) are added to the mix, Shadow – a magician and Rainbow Chang – a gossip columnist.

With so much buildup, the ending simply left me empty; a whole book being in the mind of an unlikeable character without a return on investment. I did learn a few things about Chinese legends and culture. Unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, hilarious were the author’s numerous metaphors for intercourse.

I did enjoy the author’s inclusion of Chinese poetry, songs and sayings. The novel itself, much like Camilla, is a tease which never fulfills.

Camilla is an orphan girl who is plucked out of the orphanage by a Chinese criminal gang. The gang trains her in the arts of seduction and assassination. Camilla is then planted as a spy in the midst of a rival gang and uses her cunning and skill to become the mistress of the elderly leader, Mast Lung.

Camilla meets two other skeleton women, Rainbow Chang and Shadow the magician who are a threat to Camilla’s safety, status and mission. But Camilla’s threats are not only from the outside, but also from Mast Lung’s son, Jinying, an American educated lawyer who despises his father’s violent ways but shares his infatuation with Camilla.

Buy this book in paper or electronic format

More Books by Mingmei Yip

TLC Book Tour forSkeleton Womenby Mingmei Yip:

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free fromTLC Book Tours

BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read Skeleton Women? If so link up your review below:

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  • Rebecca ScaglioneSeptember 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I haven’t read this book, and it doesn’t sound like I will, but if you’re interested in Chinese culture, Lisa See is a great author (“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and “Dreams of Joy” are my favorites) and her books takes place in China.

  • AlyceSeptember 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    It’s too bad that the build-up didn’t lead to what you were hoping for. It does sound like an interesting premise, and it’s an aspect of Chinese culture I haven’t read about.

    • Zohar - Man of la BookSeptember 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks for the comment Alyce.
      Many other people enjoyed the book – I think I simply thought I was walking into something different.

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book ToursSeptember 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Darn, I’m sorry that this one didn’t turn out to be quite your cup of tea, but thanks for being a part of the tour.

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