DAUGHTER OF A SPIRIT EATER is a young adult contemporary fantasy set on a mystical island off the coast of Shanghai. It’s told from two points of view and is complete at 74,000 words. The magic in DAUGHTER OF A SPIRIT EATER is comparable to Cardcaptor Sakuraand the overall style resembles To Kill a Kingdom.
Tao, seventeen, doesn’t remember her father, but she knows what happened to him when she was four from her grandfather’s stories. On Veil Island—off the coast of Shanghai, where the veil between the spiritual realm and the realm of the living is thinnest—her father nearly destroyed the world. He became obsessed with collecting and controlling powers by eating the spiritual energy of the dead, and it turned his soul rotten. Grandfather sacrificed his magic to kill Tao’s father and together they fled to England.
Thirteen years later in present day England, Grandfather is wasting away from his loss of spiritual energy. When Grandfather gifts Tao the last piece of his magic trapped in a locket, it draws her towards the rest of his spiritual energy—towards Veil Island. Tao realises she can use this to find and restore his magic.
Meanwhile, Li, eighteen, is training to become the next Grand Spirit Master of Veil Island. His job is to protect the spirits with his life. Despite being his grandmother’s last resort, Li wants to go to med school and save lives, not stay on an isolated island and protect the dead; he’s just not brave enough to tell her. Instead, he plots to screw up just enough to be sent home.
When Tao arrives, Li sees an opportunity to break free of his obligations. They soon discover that both their grandparents have been lying to them all along about what happened to Tao’s father…and saving her grandfather could unleash an evil spirit that will destroy both realms, one bite at a time. Together they must find a way to save their grandparents without destroying the spirits in the process.
Thank you for your time.
The exam paper glares at me, demanding answers, holding my future in its smudged pages. Every mark matters if I’m going to match my university offer, where I’ll bide my time for three more years until I figure out what to do with my life. Except I can’t focus on the questions. Not with the spirit swishing in the corner of the classroom.
Its tail has a copper hoop pattern like a red panda, but its long jaw resembles a fur-coated crocodile as it snaps its rows of teeth at me. Violet flashes across its beady eyes when it meets mine.
I pull my hair from my bun and let the cascades of black cover my peripheral vision. Spirits don’t usually linger in the material realm like this without my input, and I’m trying my best to focus on the practice paper. Frantic scribbles from my classmates surround me as they carry on with the test, oblivious, but I’ve barely put pen to paper.
When the clock reaches twenty past three, that’s it. Time’s up. I leave the room with my head low, bustled around by the other students, knowing I’ve failed yet another mock test. What a fantastic way to start Easter break.
“Hey, Tao,” my one and only friend yells from English block. It takes me two looks to recognise her. She’s cut off her locks into a pixie style and dyed the tips blonde, suiting her pointy features in a way that would never compliment my round face.
“Wait up!” she calls, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. I awkwardly match her long-legged steps as we amble home.
“You had a geography mock, right?” Skye asks. “How’d it go?”
All I can think about are the rows and rows of teeth. I sink into my shoulders and lose my footing. We break apart.
“Come on, just because something feels bad, doesn’t mean it actually is,” she says. “Exams can’t eat you alive.”
I chuckle. Maybe the exam couldn’t, but the snappy spirit wanted a bite, not that I could explain that to her without a long conversation first. “I guess not.”
“Anyway, isn’t that what mocks are for?”
“To discover why we’re inadequate?”
“Exactly,” she says, grinning. “Go home and do something about it. You’ll feel tons better if you start revising now.”
“Spoken like a true A star student,” I tease.
We head past the corner shop where Skye waves to a bundle of her friends across the road. It gives me a moment to glance around to see if I’m still haunted. Sure enough, the snapping spirit hovers a few steps behind with its jaw lax, displaying several layers of teeth. It swishes in a figure of eight. No, wait. It’s a four. Its movements are sharp lines and it reverses mid-manoeuvre to spell out a figure of four. That’s weird. Four is not a good omen when it comes to magic. In Mandarin, it’s too close to the word for death to be anything other than bad luck.