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The Black Isle [NOOK Book]

Overview

There are ghosts on the Black Isle.
Ghosts that no one can see.
No one...except Cassandra.


Uprooted from Shanghai with her father and twin brother, young Cassandra finds the Black Isle's bustling, immigrant-filled seaport, swampy jungle, and grand rubber plantations a sharp contrast to the city of her ...
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The Black Isle

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Overview

There are ghosts on the Black Isle.
Ghosts that no one can see.
No one...except Cassandra.


Uprooted from Shanghai with her father and twin brother, young Cassandra finds the Black Isle's bustling, immigrant-filled seaport, swampy jungle, and grand rubber plantations a sharp contrast to the city of her childhood. And she soon makes another discovery: the Black Isle is swarming with ghosts.

Haunted and lonely, Cassandra at first tries to ignore her ability to see the restless apparitions that drift down the street and crouch in cold corners at school. Yet despite her struggles with these spirits, Cassandra comes to love her troubled new home. And soon, she attracts the notice of a dangerously charismatic man.

Even as she becomes a fearless young woman, the Isle's dark forces won't let her go. War is looming, and Cassandra wonders if her unique gift might be her beloved island's only chance for salvation . . .

Taking readers from the 1920s, through the Japanese occupation during WWII, to the Isle's radical transformation into a gleaming cosmopolitan city, THE BLACK ISLE is a sweeping epic--a deeply imagined, fiercely original tale from a vibrant new voice in fiction.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tan’s ambitious debut is a gripping historical novel set on an exotic island in Southeast Asia during a 60-year span that encompasses the island’s primitive condition as a British colony, the WWII Japanese invasion, and its postwar transformation. Thanks to a deep natural harbor, fine climate, and convenient position between India and China, the island becomes “the shiny opal in the empire’s Far Eastern crown.” But since the heroine has the gift—or curse—of seeing the dead, this is also a gothic tale with scenes of grisly supernatural horror, its atmosphere full of dark omens and a sense of the macabre. Narrator Ling, who later changes her name to Cassandra, is born in early 1920s China. As an adolescent, she goes with her father and twin brother to the aptly named Black Island, where she lives through one harrowing event after another as she’s forced to summon spectral apparitions in order to placate the men who rule her life: her feckless father, the Japanese officer who makes her his mistress, and the ruthlessly ambitious Oxford-educated politician in whose bed she finds herself next. Tan’s imagination seems boundless as she involves her protagonist in events that force her to evade moral scruples in order to stay alive. Conveying an atmosphere of corruption, violence and betrayal, Tan anchors the narrative with authoritative details of time and place, and social and ethnic rituals. Her descriptions of the supercilious British and the arrogant, depraved Japanese are brutally candid. Her stark, knife-sharp images of horror-inducing events—a woman in sexual congress with an octopus, a schoolgirl’s body dangling from a ceiling fan, forced sex in public as entertainment for Japanese army officers, occult rites in a cemetery, prisoners forced to harvest fleas from bodies to make pathogens, sharks bursting out of an aquarium tank and devouring children, a huge gathering of ghastly corpses—are not for fainthearted readers, but the tale as a whole maintains its mesmerizing power throughout. Agent: Barbara Braun. (Aug.7)
The Los Angeles Times
"The Black Isle is an elegant, disturbing and satisfying read, both epic and intimate."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Beautifully written, with a storyline that spans 70 years, The Black Isle is a historical novel that is both breathtaking and haunting. The characters are vivid - some simply charming, some horrifyingly scary - and the plot has so many twists and turns it seems as though you're reading a winding country road....The Black Isle is an engaging and engrossing novel that will absolutely captivate you and should not be missed. It will take you on a journey you will not soon forget."
The LA Times
"An ambitious, supernatural coming-of-age story... With its paranormal-meets-goth sensibility and angsty, flawed-but-fierce heroine, The Black Isle is a natural fit for the Twilight crowd."
Vogue.com
"Destined to be among summer's sleeper hits is filmmaker Sandi Tan's gulpable first novel,The Black Isle."
Booklist
"Tan reveals a rich imagination and a lush style in this first novel...riveting...will sweep readers into the action."
Steve Erickson
"On The Black Isle, a young woman grows old with the Twentieth Century, haunting her own life as history conspires to render her a secret. Sweeping in scope, impressively imagined, ruthlessly readable."
Judith Freeman
"Rich in vivid characters, and written with great imagination and intelligence, The Black Isle is a remarkable novel. A haunting book, mesmerizing in its beauty, which stayed with me long after I finished the last page."
Tom Carson
"The narrator of The Black Isle recounts her tales of fantastic events -- erotic, supernatural, horrific -- so convincingly that Tarot cards might as well be baseball cards in her book. An irresistible feat of storytelling, The Black Isle blends what Midnight's Children did for the former Bombay with what Dorothy did for Oz."
From the Publisher
"The Black Isle is an elegant, disturbing and satisfying read, both epic and intimate."—The Los Angeles Times

"Beautifully written, with a storyline that spans 70 years, The Black Isle is a historical novel that is both breathtaking and haunting. The characters are vivid - some simply charming, some horrifyingly scary - and the plot has so many twists and turns it seems as though you're reading a winding country road....The Black Isle is an engaging and engrossing novel that will absolutely captivate you and should not be missed. It will take you on a journey you will not soon forget."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"An ambitious, supernatural coming-of-age story... With its paranormal-meets-goth sensibility and angsty, flawed-but-fierce heroine, The Black Isle is a natural fit for the Twilight crowd."—The LA Times

"Tan constructs a debut novel that is beautifully written yet deeply disturbing. Gritty and intensely erotic, it grips readers with Cassandra's visions while pushing them away with the brutality of her life. Not a story for the faint of heart, it will engage those looking for a gothic depiction of WWII in Asia and the ghosts that haunt us."—Library Journal

"Destined to be among summer's sleeper hits is filmmaker Sandi Tan's gulpable first novel,The Black Isle."—Vogue.com

"Mesmerizing . . . a gripping historical novel . . . Tan's imagination seems boundless."—Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

"A cinematically epic ghost story."—Kirkus Reviews

"Tan reveals a rich imagination and a lush style in this first novel...riveting...will sweep readers into the action."—Booklist

"On The Black Isle, a young woman grows old with the Twentieth Century, haunting her own life as history conspires to render her a secret. Sweeping in scope, impressively imagined, ruthlessly readable."—Steve Erickson, author of These Dreams of You

"Rich in vivid characters, and written with great imagination and intelligence, The Black Isle is a remarkable novel. A haunting book, mesmerizing in its beauty, which stayed with me long after I finished the last page."—Judith Freeman, author of The Long Embrace and Red Water

"The narrator of The Black Isle recounts her tales of fantastic events — erotic, supernatural, horrific — so convincingly that Tarot cards might as well be baseball cards in her book. An irresistible feat of storytelling, The Black Isle blends what Midnight's Children did for the former Bombay with what Dorothy did for Oz."—Tom Carson, author of Gilligan's Wake and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter

Library Journal
From a young age, Cassandra was cognizant of the ghosts around her. She witnessed their tortured presence during a childhood in Shanghai and continues to see them as she moves to the Black Isle, a British colony in the Indonesian archipelago, with her father and twin brother. Cassandra's visions and her brother's recklessness tear them apart and signal the brutality that will define her life. The beginning of World War II and Japan's occupation of the colony lead her to her first doomed romantic relationship. After a Japanese colonel named Taro violently destroys her new family, she is forced to serve as his political pawn while witnessing the growing number of souls looking for revenge and closure. VERDICT Tan constructs a debut novel that is beautifully written yet deeply disturbing. Gritty and intensely erotic, it grips readers with Cassandra's visions while pushing them away with the brutality of her life. Not a story for the faint of heart, it will engage those looking for a gothic depiction of WWII in Asia and the ghosts that haunt us. [See Prepub Alert, 2/2/12.]—Madeline Solien, Deerfield P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
Tan debuts with a cinematically epic ghost story set largely on a Malaysian island that bears a striking resemblance to her native Singapore. In 2010, fearing that she is being erased from history, an aged woman living in Tokyo recounts her life to a visiting professor: Born in 1922 Shanghai, Ling and her twin brother, Li, are inseparable until 7-year-old Ling realizes that she can see ghosts while he can't. From then on, ghosts surround her, some charming, some sorrowful, some horrific. During the Depression, Ling's father loses his teaching job. At the insistence of Ling's agoraphobic mother, he travels to the island in search of work, taking only the twins with him. They live in poverty, but Ling enjoys the cosmopolitan city until her father takes a job managing a rubber plantation when she is 12. He proves inept, so for three years Li and Ling run the operation, engaging in a little incest along the way, until the spirits of the dead rise up in an act of violence. As Japanese power builds ominously, Ling takes a job with the wealthy Wee family. Before long, she is engaged to sweet, dopey Daniel Wee and has changed her name to Cassandra. Recognizing her as a kindred spirit, the Wees' chauffeur, Issa, encourages her to corral her power over the spirit world, but she bungles her attempt. The Japanese invade; the Wees are destroyed; and she becomes a Japanese officer's sex toy until the British return victorious. Cassandra reunites with Issa and with Daniel's former schoolmate, Kenneth. Helping them in their struggle for postwar independence, Cassandra enlists a host of child ghosts who wreak uncontrollable havoc. As Kenneth rises in the political world, he becomes Cassandra's secret lover, but their affair is doomed: He embodies the relentless pursuit of ghost-free prosperity, while she can't shake the haunted tension between the present and the past. Cassandra is compelling, but despite graphic, sometimes gratuitous eroticism and violence, the ambitious novel eventually becomes a slog through too many ghosts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446582704
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 262,581
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Sandi Tan was born in Singapore and has an MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University. Her short films have been shown around the world at venues such as the New York Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand, MoMA, and on European television. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband, the critic John Powers, and their bossy Siamese, Nico. You can visit her website at www.SandiTan.com.
THE BLACK ISLE is her debut novel.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2013

    This book started out with amazing promise. I loved the author's

    This book started out with amazing promise. I loved the author's style and her characters were interesting and fun to get to know - even the ones I loved to hate. The story of a family torn apart and Cassandra's ability to see ghosts is compelling. I loved the culture that I was being introduced to and had great expectations of writing a positive review of a remarkable book. So what happened? For reasons I don't understand (and I'm willing to consider that I might have come to understand had I continued reading) the author took the main character twins to a place that would have been better never explored. SPOILER ALERT!
    I couldn't get my head around incest and rape between twins that had not shown any of these inclinations through the beginning of the story. It seemed to be a sudden, unexplained, eruption of evil that sprung out of nothing. Like the scene in a movie thrown in to raise the rating. It felt unneccessary and lowered my opinion of the author and the characters. I couldn't get past it and put the book down never to be pickd back up. A huge disappointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    Very Inteteresting Tale

    Long but interesting most of the time. Some very off putting segments, that are reoccurring. Overall I am still not sure how I feel about this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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