Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea
by Rita Chang-Eppig
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Pub Date 30 May 2023 | Archive Date 31 May 2023
Bloomsbury USA, Bloomsbury Publishing
For readers of Outlawed, Piranesi, and The Night Tiger, a riveting debut novel about a legendary Chinese pirate queen, her fight to save her fleet from the forces allied against them, and the dangerous price of power.
Named a Most Anticipated Novel by:
Washington Post * Goodreads * LitHub * NetGalley's We Are Bookish * Debutiful * Our Culture * The Chicago Review of Books * The Rumpus * Tor.com
When Shek Yeung sees a Portuguese sailor slay her husband, a feared pirate, she knows she must act swiftly or die. Instead of mourning, Shek Yeung launches a new plan: immediately marrying her husband’s second-in-command, and agreeing to bear him a son and heir, in order to retain power over her half of the fleet.
But as Shek Yeung vies for control over the army she knows she was born to lead, larger threats loom. The Chinese Emperor has charged a brutal, crafty nobleman with ridding the South China Seas of pirates, and the Europeans—tired of losing ships, men, and money to Shek Yeung’s alliance—have new plans for the area. Even worse, Shek Yeung’s cutthroat retributions create problems all their own. As Shek Yeung navigates new motherhood and the crises of leadership, she must decide how long she is willing to fight, and at what price, or risk losing her fleet, her new family, and even her life.
A book of salt and grit, blood and sweat, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is an unmissable portrait of a woman who leads with the courage and ruthlessness of our darkest and most beloved heroes.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 71 members
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig is historical fiction about Shek Yeung, the Pirate Queen of China. The novel focuses on a roughly two-year span of her life as she tries to hold onto the power she cultivated alongside her first husband as China’s political landscape rapidly shifts into something completely new. Naval battles, political intrigue among pirates and nations, and complex relationships feature throughout the character study of this complex figure. Both the legendary woman and the historical period she existed in are richly realized with beautiful, examining prose.
Shek Yeung is a fascinating figure to follow throughout the novel as it examines her identity as a social outcast, her hunger for power, her trauma, and her relationships. Though the numerous issues tackled in the novel could become overwhelming, the author does a spectacular job of grounding it all with Shek Yeung and her relationships. Themes of womanhood; the role of women and mothers; social outcasts due to religion, profession, and sexuality; sexual violence; criminality, violence and power; poverty and trauma are all given their due.
Overall, it is a riveting and intimate study of a complicated figure and the issues of her time that shaped and influenced Shek Yeung.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
My first 5 star read of 2023! This book was phenomenal, somehow timeless and brilliant. Following a Chinese pirate queen, this is a story of adventure, politics, plotting, and the conflict of motherhood. Shek Yeung is newly widowed, her husband Cheng Yat murdered by the Portuguese. She has risen to command their fleet, but with his death, she seeks to consolidate her power and stick with the only part of her life she has known any power: being a pirate, and maintaining their alliances. She marries Cheung Po, her husband’s ward and heir, and steps into a new tier of intrigue.
This was so vivid and immersive. Skillfully told and full of compassionate adventure, even through the violence.
I love pirates and historical fiction, so I was excited to see Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig pop up as an eARC on NetGalley. Boy did it deliver on the premise: there are elaborate naval battles and lots of hand-to-hand combat. I looked up a bunch of things about Shek Yeung after reading, and it turns out this really happened!
The prose is hauntingly beautiful. Also, the main story is interwoven with myths of the sea goddess Ma-Zou. These tales give a dreamy quality to the book and inject a lot of interesting existential questions.
The main character Shek Yeung is really interesting. And she's not the only interesting woman pirate in the book. There's a ruthless woman captain in another fleet who is kind of a sniper and has a reverse harem.
This is my favorite book I've read this year, maybe even one of my all-time favorites. I can't wait to read the next book from Chang-Eppig.
I loved getting to read this book about the legendary Chinese pirate queen Shek Yeung, I always am up for a book about pirates and this is a really well done story. I enjoyed the plot of the book and it did everything that I wanted it to. The characters were really well done and worked in the time-period. Rita Chang-Eppig has a great writing style and I look forward to reading more from her.
"She had grown quite fond of him over their time together, she explained. Begun to think of him as a younger brother, maybe even a son. “But in truth I’m also concerned about your Matron,” she said. “I fear the English are deceiving her.”
Rita Chang-Eppig's "Deep As The Sky , Red As The Sea" is as exciting as reading Pericles by William Shakespeare. The heroine, pirate is Shek Yeung. Not only can she behead an enemy, she can strategize the next move in a sea battle. It is a thrill pretending to stand in her sea shoes. The bloody truth is that Shek Young must maintain the control of the ship, at least half of it.
Notwithstanding The piracy of ships must not stop. Therefore, while missionaries evangelize about eternal kingdoms, there is one electrifying truth. Women pirates do not cater to permanence. It is about overthrow and conquer.
A complimentary copy received from Bloomsbury Pub. https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/
This epic adventure on the high-seas had me glued to my kindle. Hands down one of my top books of the year!
I just reviewed Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig. #DeepastheSkyRedastheSea #NetGalley
Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance reader copy of this book.
I loved every thing about this book. A strong female in a male dominated field? Count me in. This book was beautifully written and incredibly intriguing. I'll definitely be looking for more books by this author in the future.
Action-packed and beautifully written, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is a captivating story about a powerful and fearsome woman. The novel opens en media res with a battle at sea and only picks up steam from there. I was hooked from beginning to end as Shek Yeung's story unfolds with depth and compassion. There are legends of a Chinese sea goddess braided throughout, which add even more dimension to this frequently surprising epic tale.
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig is one of the best books I read this year. Great plot and main character!
A beautiful, meditative, fascinating read. This is exquisitely written and while I knew that the subject would be fascinating, I was unprepared for how much. Perfect for fans of Four Treasures of the Sky.
I am SO glad I requested an ARC of this book!
The cover and title attracted my attention, but the story and absolutely beautiful writing kept it.
The characters, the prose, just everything was so fantastic. I highlighted like 100 passages. This was one of the best books I've read in a long time.
I'll definitely be giving a copy of this away around release day on my tiktok (@hauntedhousebooks).
Sincere TY for letting me arc read and I wish you much success on the release.
5/5 female-centered pirate historical fiction
Bloomsbury: Female Chinese pirate captain . . .
Me: Say less.
We follow Shek Yeung, a woman in her early 30's, who through a series of tragic, complex events has become the wife and chief strategist of her pirate captain husband. After her husband dies during a battle, Shek is left to pick up where he left off. The story flips back and forth from past to present, each time revealing a little more about Shek's history, decisions and self-reflections that brought her to this present moment. While the character development is rich and interior, this story moves at a good pace. The story takes includes shifting power alliances, an emperor trying to eliminate pirates and Shek's own internal struggles over power and freedom.
As a mother, I deeply connected to the vulnerable discussions about expectations around motherhood and the judgements about what makes a 'good' mother. Rita Chang-Eppig also folds in the expectations around womanhood in general and Shek's experiences in each extreme of each through work as a prostitute and work as a pirate captain.
I'm so glad I read this book, and hope we get a lot more from Rita Chang-Eppig in the future.
This book is best read in a fish market, by the ocean on a warm spring day with a light breeze. After you've finished, make sure to get your fortune read.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for an advanced reader copy.
Wow, what a story. A story about a woman pirate Shek Yeung whose skill and will makes her a survivor in a brutal world. There is no sugarcoated story here, although she has had children and is fond of some of the people she's encountered, she doesn't indulge in sentimentality, just survival. From a young age she has had to survive the death of her family, being sold to the flower boats, and finally wife to a Pirate, Shek Yeung never had time to be anything but a pirate because being a woman in China was unthinkable. The story is adventurous and full of intrigues as Shek Yeung with the help of her new pirate husband Cheung Po tries to survive the elimination of the pirates by China and the Europeans. I absolutely loved this story.
I know this is suppose to be fictional story, but I looked up woman pirates in China and came across Zheng Yi Sao, who was a real pirate and had the same traits as Shek Yeung and just made go, Wow, how did she survive it all.
I want to thank Bloomsbury USA, Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy of this amazing story.
This was really interesting to read after having just recently read Babel, by RF Kuang. It seems to center around a similar time period, with opium "trade" imminent in Canton. It was really interesting to have a protagonist who was so strong and amazing yet deeply flawed at the same time. It was difficult to know whether or not I should be rooting for her, but I think I did ultimately want her to come out on top. The politics and ethics around pirating was explored quite a bit, and it was also lovely how these myths and folktales of Ma Zou were interweaved throughout the book.
I thought this one was really fantastic. One: the cover was gorgeous. I’m going to buy a hard cover just for my shelf because of how nice it looks. The story was recommended by several popular authors I follow. The story was exciting and the tone was set from the first chapter. I will recommend!
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea was a true treasure. Strong female lead, dramatic and adventurous plot. It had all of the components you want!
Wow! I loved this book--Shek Yeung's story as a female pirate trying to hold the fleet together after the death of her husband was compelling; the setting made me want to set sail; and, I loved how feminist it was. There was a lot of violence, yes, but the author handled it sensitively and acknowledged what it did to those who both were subjected to it and who perpetrated it. The writing was beautiful; I made many annotations of quotes I wanted to remember.
Highly recommend if you like feminist pirate stories with a lot of Chinese mythology--I would love to learn more about Ma Zhou.
A wonderful telling of the actions of the Chinese pirate fleets as they struggle to survive against the Emperor need to wipe them out along with the invasion of their territories by the Portuguese and British merchants. The story is of a woman seized from her father's fishing boat by pirates,sold to a flower boat madam, rescued and married to the pirate boss of a huge fleet. Her husband is killed and she and his second in command take over the fleet. She married and has a child with him to secure her position in charge of the fleet. Together they try to preserve the fleet and battle against the Emperor' navy as well as the Portuguese and British merchant seeking to eliminate them. There is also the poignant story of her motherhood and her need to remain a pirate but also protect her child. This is an enjoyable story.
I absolutely loved this book. What's not to like? Adventure, pirates... and a female pirate queen at that. But really... the author did an amazing job bringing to life a real person, with few choices in life, who somehow managed to survive everything that was thrown at her but also thrived in a world where men generally ruled. It was beautifully written... Shek Yeung is realistic and down to earth about what her current situation is at any given time. The mythology woven throughout the book tell stories of Ma-Zou, and they not only add to the story but left me wanting to learn more about Chinese mythology. As someone who loves mythology of all kinds, I do know very little about their mythology. I will be recommending this book and choosing it as my staff pick when it comes out.
A pirate fleet, politics, and a woman in search of herself. Rita Chang-Eppig's novel is a gorgeously written, meticulously plotted high sea adventure. I fell in love with our heroine early on in the novel: a woman used to strife, but not hardened completely to the plights of those around her. The relationships take center stage here: Shek Yeung's bond with her dead husband's former lover, her connection with her crewmates, and the inter-fleet fighting. Shek Yeung was a fascinating character to spend 300 pages with, and the fantasy elements here (lightly added) make the book especially special. There's a lack of sentimentality here that I appreciated. I'm really looking forward to whatever the author writes next.
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