Cover Image: Zhiguai: Chinese True Tales of the Paranormal and Glitches in the Matrix

Zhiguai: Chinese True Tales of the Paranormal and Glitches in the Matrix

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Member Reviews

Wish we could get more translations of books like these. A well-written and well=put together book. Entertaining and literary.
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Zhiguai means "tales of the miraculous", "tales of the strange", or "records of anomalies" and that's exactly what this book is about. Short stories about the paranormal which had me hooked from the first page. It was also really interesting to read a bit about chinese culture and beliefs. What was also helpful, since i honestly don't know much about chinese culture, was the preface at the beginning of each story, which give you some cultural context. 

the content warning page, while helpful, was near the end of the book after all the stories (okay it's different if you have the book version but with the ebook version you have to switch back and forth). It would have been better, if the trigger warnings were written directly behind the title of the story.  I'm not easily triggered so it was fine for me, but for others this might not be the case.

Thank you Empress Wu Books and  authors Yi Izzy Yu, John Yu Branscum for making this book!
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Zhiguai is one of my new favorite books.  Strange, true and unbelievable stories that will expand your mind. Chinese paranormal stories should be more popular in the west because these stories are truly the most exceptional.
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Zhiguai is an anthology of short, sometimes very short, uncanny tales, or “zhiguai.” These are different from ghost stories, being more personal and more reliant on wrinkles in reality. Time slips, doppelgangers, quick jaunts to parallel realities, glitches in the matrix, if you will, are the sort of strange phenomena covered here.

These are true narratives related by the people who have experienced these things. Most of the storytellers seem quite young. While some of the stories are disturbing, this anthology feels like the type of scares that I would have absolutely loved in high school. For me now, I wish these stories were paired with some from Yi Izzy Yu and John Yu Branscum’s other translation project The Shadow Book of Ji Yun, a collection of traditional zhiguai. I’m definitely interested in comparing the more traditional (which I’m unfamiliar with) and the modern.

That being said, this would be an absolutely perfect autumn readathon book: a spin-tingling fast read.
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Zhiguai are Chinese paranormal tales, and this collection includes many interesting tales. I really appreciated the trigger warnings for each of them, and the supplemental material at the back. I'm excited to read the companion book.

A short preface accompanies each tale, providing cultural context to the story. I found these really helpful, as I'm not incredibly familiar with Chinese cultural traditions, especially those that vary by region.

I loved the discussion of the zhiguai tradition alongside the influence of H.P. Lovecraft. Don't skip this section when you read the book.

The collection is greta for folklore fans and people who love paranormal tv shows and stories. It's short and easy to read in snippets, so it would be good for people who don't have a lot of time to commit to reading, but like to read. I think it would be really good if you read on a commute.
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"Zhiguai" can be traced back to the Chinese Taoist Philosopher Zhuangzi who used the term to refer to storyteller of the strange or "guai" this came to mean a strangeness rooted in a reality radically beyond the everyday, but claimed to be true by the storyteller.

This book had me completely hooked and finished in a single sitting. The stories collected here are Zhiguai, true tales of strangeness beyond our reality, "glitches in the matrix" . The tales are incredibly creepy but captivating and each one made me want to read on. I have always been interested in "paranormal" or "weird" events as my mother told me a lot about things that happened to her that couldn't be explained and I have had my own strange experiences, so the concept of "Zhiguai" has always been a part of my life although I never had a word for it. As well as this, I have always loved Japanese horror movies and their ability to genuinely terrify compared to American horror movies filled with cheap jump scares The writing is straightforward which adds to the weirdness of the world it creates and a wonderful juxtaposition makes the tales even more uncanny than if they used "literary" language. These tales are the sort that creep into your skin and stay there days, weeks, months, years after you read them, this general uncertainty as they are written as truth. Absolutely incredible author Yi Izzy Yu and translator and editor John Yu Branscum, I absolutely can't wait to read more!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Empress Wu Books for providing me with a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Zhiguai is a collection of true paranormal stories collected and presented with a short blurb at the beginning of each. These are all fairly short - a few pages maximum - so perfect for when you don’t have much time. They are also deliciously creepy, and worth waiting for a dark night! I also really enjoyed having a look at Chinese beliefs and culture, and how that shapes the way they view the paranormal. 

I really appreciated the content warning provided. Two of the stories were quite jarring to read, so I was grateful I was prepared and had the option to skip if I needed to. 

This book is perfect for people who like their horror low key and on the paranormal side, and is also a really good entry book into reading about the paranormal.
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Zhiguai: Chinese True Tales of the Paranormal and Glitches in the Matrix

[Blurb Goes Here]

I was a bit disappointed by this book. While the tales are interesting and unusual, the introduction by the authors to each story, was completely unnecessary for me. The book is short, the stories themselves are short and the introductions seems to be filling to make the book a bit longer.

I honestly don't care about the length of a book. I care about enjoying its contents. I did enjoy the tales, even when some had little to no substance. What makes them enjoyable is that they are different from what I'm used to read.

I recommend this book to people wanting to read legends from the far east.

Thank you for the advanced copy!
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This book was so much fun! Interesting tales of weird experiences and high strangeness in China perfect for some light spooky reading. I loved it!
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Very interesting. I have enjoyed both books that I’ve read by authors. Thank you to publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
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Zhiguai means records or writings of strange or supernatural tales and this is exactly what this book is about. There are A LOT of strange tales in this book and I enjoyed all of them!  Although these are short and quick tales, they will certainly send chills down your spine.

There are tales about reincarnation, parallel universes, occult murders and many more. "The substitute ghost" was the spookiest one for me. 

I feel so nostalgic reading this book! Growing up, one of the many favorite things we like to do with family and friends, was telling and sharing ghost stories! My dad traveled a lot for his work and oh boy, the stories he shared with us haunted us for days! 

In a nutshell, this was an enjoyable spooky read! The translation was good and a great book to read if you want to learn more about Chinese customs and beliefs.

TW: alcoholism, death, suicide, infant death, violence, animal cruelty 

Pub. Date: July 10th, 2021

**Thank you Empress Wu Books, authors Yi Izzy Yu, John Yu Branscum and NetGalley for this gifted copy to read and review.***
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We all have that one inexplicable story, right? Maybe it didn't happen to you, maybe it's a family legend, but we all know one. Mine is the time – well, I won't go into it now, but trust me, it's strange, alarming and we've never come up with a logical explanation for it.
In the West, we call these stories 'a glitch in the Matrix' after the film, but the stories are not confined to us;  everyone, everywhere in the world, experiences these strange events, puzzles and time skips. This collection comes from China and features stories from both the busy, populated cities and the quiet, remote rural areas – proving that these tales are not confined to one type of place or the other.

There's a great mix of stories too; some of them are ghost stories, some are time slips, some are plain old horror, and a few just can't be categorized. I think the one that will stick with me is about the boy who went to an apartment that wasn't quite his uncle's, although the most horrifying by far is the one about the baby girl. You'll know it when you come to it.

If you have a taste for the unexplained, for things that will make you look around suspiciously, for stories that will linger after you've read them...this is your book. Enjoy. I definitely did.



(Quick note on the translation; absolutely perfect, no stiffness or formality and concepts we might not be familiar with are explained without breaking the flow of the stories. Lovely.)
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In this collection, award-winning writers and translators Yi Izzy Yu and John Yu Branscum share paranormal and glitch-in-the-matrix tales from across present-day China. Confided by eyewitnesses, these true stories uncannily echo Western encounters with chilling dimensions of reality and supernatural entities. At the same time, they thrillingly immerse the reader in everyday Chinese life and occult beliefs. 

Zhiguai: Chinese True Tales of the Paranormal and Glitches in the Matrix includes such accounts as:

     *The reincarnation of a teenager whose fate eerily mimics his predecessor’s

     *A girl who dies in the womb but nevertheless continues to communicate with her twin

     *Terrifying shifts into demonic parallel universes 

     *Walls desperately painted with blood to save a family from tragedy

     *Huge populations that disappear into thin air

     *The revenge-seeking ghosts of murdered cats 

     *Weird temporal shifts

     *Occult murders

     From the terrifying to the uncanny, this collection will not only change your understanding of China but of reality itself.
If you like a spooky read this ones for you!
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Overall, I found this to be an interesting quick read with some really spooky tales. With an introduction, a selection of stories from various people, and an interview with detailed responses at the end, it's the sort of book you could pick up and read any part of, or return to your favourites at any time.

Highlights for me include:
- A really engaging, beautifully written introduction. It made me feel really excited for the content and intrigued about what unusual stories I was about to discover.
- Great cultural info and backstory on "Zhiguai" and the differences between Eastern and Western storytelling and experiences.
- A few really unusual stories that made me feel spooked, and wondering about my own past experiences. The first story felt like the highlight of the book for me, and was really touching.
- I liked how each story felt like it was authentic to the individual teller and had its own voice. This would be a great book for reading aloud in a group, on Halloween or other ghost themed event!

Elements I liked less:
- Two of the stories (King of Cats and Peach Wood) contained graphically described violence towards animals and a baby. The cat one especially took me by surprised and I felt very distressed reading it - I nearly stopped reading entirely. The story does come to a more positive conclusion, and I'm sure not everyone would be sensitive about it, but I would have liked a warning beforehand, as this content could really upset people. EDIT: the author has confirmed there will be content warning added to the final book now, so I'm amending my review to reflect this :) adding a star.
- Some of the stories felt very short, and it felt like there weren't very many of them. It took less than an hour for me to read through the book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it felt like I was expecting more. Perhaps that shows more that I was enjoying the content, so a positive thing, but I did feel a bit disappointed by some of the stories in the end.
- Some of the formatting and imagery didn't work well as a Kindle ebook, with the low contrast of the imagery making it hard to see. It was great having the pictures in there though, adding an extra element to the stories!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, spooky read, especially if you have an interest in the paranormal or in Chinese stories. It is enjoyable, but I think it needs a little work to really refine it, and at only 142 pages it does feel very short.
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"You don't need millions of reasons to believe somebody exists when you meet them. You just do. There's nothing complicated about it".

Trigger warning: child abuse and animal abuse.

Zhiguai are the 'records of the strange' and span stories that tell of paranormal activity and alternate realities that collide with our own shared by Chinese citizens. The authors curated a wonderful collection of first-hand short stories from a variety of age groups recalling their weird, lived experiences. As an avid horror movie fan, seeing similar tropes from British stories transcend barriers and clearly thrive in Chinese culture too was exhilirating.

The stories were a great way of learning more about Chinese culture, ranging from the value of cats, application of substitutes and fortune telling. I have heard many true life accounts from people similar to 'A jump off the bus', which makes it even more intriguing and emphasises that despite all the differences in the world, People are fundamentally the same. Further, the comparison to Chinese literature favourite Zhuangzi's butterfly parable was glorious, making a link between the complexity of our thoughts and the complexity of the world we live in. Bravo.

'Yeye's' Girl' and 'Not That Brother' were my favourites hands down and left me with goosebumps at the end both. A firm believer of the supernatural, I can imagine the feelings of those who lived the moment and hope everyone else finds the same joy and wonder in these tales. 

Thank you for delivering such a wonderful book Yi and John and thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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I have always been interested in the occult, paranormal, the glitch in the matrix, and stories related to them. When it comes to truly terrifying horror, be it any medium, I have always turned to Asian tales of horror. While I have read my fair share of stories, I am more interested in the tales that people have experienced, tales that sound fictional except that someone has experienced the same in real life. When my friends and I would get together, I would be the one to turn the discussion to the paranormal. So when I came across this book, I was stoked beyond measure. I started devouring it as fast as I could. 
I must share this with other readers before I delve into the review that I had a little background of the practices and traditions in China before starting this book, and I come from a place where some bizarre things have happened, so I wasn't put off by some of the descriptions that might trigger people. So I should tell you that the book should have come with trigger warnings.
Zhiguai is a Chinese term that roughly translates to "Records of the strange". These are tales that record the strange events that have occurred to people. Zhuangzi, the Chinese Taoist Philosopher coined the term and has recorded some of the earliest zhiguai, known in Chinese literature. Bear in mind that back in 200 to 300 BC, a lot of things were deemed strange, mostly to their being unidentified and unexplored. A lot of modern-day horror stories that have been depicted in films or books have their roots in classical zhiguai. This book is a collection of modern zhiguai. From a grandfather who visited his granddaughter after death, to cats seeking revenge and a grisly murder being solved by the victim who should be dead by every means, this collection has it all.
The subject matter has been categorized as non-fiction, depending on how you take it, it may be fiction for you. Nevertheless, it was a gratifying experience to read all the accounts that the authors have collected and compiled. The stories also point out the differences between the Eastern and Western way of storytelling and what is perceived as horror. You will also get a glimpse into Chinese traditions and culture. I liked that the authors' note at the start of each story. They provide some perspective about the story that is up ahead. This will be really helpful to the readers as they can choose whether they want to read that particular story or not.
Overall, it was a great reading experience for a horror lover.
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