Saturday, 19 November 2016

Review: The Cloud Leopard's Daughter (The Smuggler's Wife #4) by Deborah Challinor @HarperNZ

Thank you to Harper Collins NZ for allowing me to review this book


On the gold fields of the colonies, enemies are easily made. In the confines of a ship, they can turn deadly. For readers of Bryce Courtenay's POTATO FACTORY, Philippa Gregory and Tracy Chevalier.

When Kitty and Rian Farrell sail their schooner Katipo III into Dunedin Harbour in 1863, they are on tenterhooks. The new Otago goldfields have attracted all-comers, including their friend Wong Fu from Ballarat, who has sent a message for their help.

To their surprise, Wong Fu reveals he is more than a mere fortune seeker - he is in fact a Cloud Leopard tong master and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China.

Kitty and Rian agree to retrieve the missing Bao, but as they sail closer to their quarry the stakes jump dramatically. And little do they know that the deadliest threat lies in their midst.

The Cloud's Leopard's Daughter takes us through dangerous and unpredictable shoals of love, lust, greed and opium, in search of not one, but two, fiery yet vulnerable women - puppets in other people's calculated games.

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*** I voluntarily reviewed this book, I gained no monetary incentives nor was I specifically requested to review the book, these are my honest ramblings and I hope you enjoy reading them - kat***
When I saw this book on my list of books to choose to review, I immediately was drawn by the cover, it's lovely but also shows the wildness of the NZ coastline and when I read the blurb it was a definite Yes for me to request, as not 6 days before I had spent an afternoon at the Dunedin Early Settlers Museum ( going off track a bit but if you ever visit Dunedin this is a Free admittance and an excellent place to visit )
historical fiction is not a top genre for me to choose, but if the blurb draws me in I will read it, you see I am fussy when it comes to the books based in the past, there has to be some life in the story, the characters have to be relatable to me. Well Deborah Challinor hit the nail on the head.
Not only did the characters feel real, but the storyline was both familiar but also educated me at the same time.
Now the "rough and ready crew" of the schooner Katipo III were a mix of ethnicities and I knew that there were 3 other books in the 'series' of the Smugglers Wife Series But this did not make reading this book confusing, it just made me want to find the others and schedule them to read at some point.
We have the initial request for help from an old friend Wong Fu who must be introduced in a previous book, and we find out he is more than just a pan-handler, he is, in fact, a Tong Master, hence the title of the book , he is the Cloud Leopard and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China. ( now I learned a lot about the opium trade reading this book!)
With the rest of the crew, Kitty and Rian set sail to find Bao, but it will not be easy, with unscrupulous relatives trying to hinder the rescue and pirates on the seas and most of all Jealousy in the midst of what is perceived as a happy family aboard the Katipo lead us on a very unpredictable adventure.
The Cloud's Leopard's Daughter kept me reading late into Friday night, all of Saturday afternoon and evening.
if you like books that bring you a sense of adventure, and a glimpse of the past ( and thankfully NZ has indoor plumbing now) then grab a copy.
check out my Post on my blog as the author is in Southland this week - I hope to meet her on the 22nd in our local library!

View all Kat's reviews

Author Bio

Born in Huntly, she holds a Ph.D. in New Zealand history from the University of Waikato. Challinor has worked as a fulltime writer and historian since 2000.

Primarily known for her historical novels, Deborah Challinor’s first published books were non-fiction history books, including the best-selling Grey Ghosts: New Zealand Vietnam Vets Talk About Their War (Hodder Moa Beckett, 1998).

Her first historical novel, Tamar, was published in 2002 and has been reprinted six times. Tamar is set in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, and South Africa and covers the period from 1879 until the Boer War. The series continues with White Feathers (2003) and Blue Smoke (2004).

Union Belle (2005) tells the love story of a young woman caught up in the 1951 waterfront strike, and Kitty (2006) is set in the Bay of Islands in nineteenth century New Zealand. Both novels have been at the top of the New Zealand fiction bestseller list.

Attention to historical detail is an important part of writing for Challinor. ‘I base my novels on actual historical events, and it’s very important to me to research those events in depth and to present them accurately,’ she says.

Reviewing Union Belle in North and South magazine in April 2005, Warwick Roger commented that: ‘You can smell the beer and cigarette smoke in the public bar of the Huntly Hotel, hear the band at the Saturday night dances at the miner’s hall … it’s a book I kept sneaking back to whenever I had a spare quarter hour, eager to advance the story.’

Fire (HarperCollins, 2007), Challinor's seventh novel, is set in Auckland during the hype leading up to the royal visit of 1953 but is based on the Ballantyne’s department store fire of 1947 in Christchurch. A powerful and dramatic story of passion, ambition, and greed, it became a number one bestseller.

Amber, the sequel to Kitty, was published later in 2007 and also became a bestseller. Amber opens in New Zealand in 1945, on the eve of the Northern War in the Bay of Islands, in which Kitty is caught up. Sent to Auckland away from the fighting, Kitty encounters an orphaned part-Maori girl she names Amber. Together they return to the Bay of Islands, where both Kitty must risk her own life to save Amber’s.

Isle of Tears (HarperCollins NZ Ltd, 2009) is a story about 14-year-old Scottish immigrant Isla McKinnon and her younger brothers and sister. When they are orphaned they are adopted by Taranaki Maori and become caught up in the wars in Taranaki, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

A revised edition of Challinor’s Grey Ghosts (HarperCollins NZ) was published in 2009. This edition included a new chapter on how the New Zealand Vietnam veteran community has fared since the book was first published in 1998.

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Rachel M Raithby

Rachel M Raithby
Author of the Deadwood Hunter Series

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