Book Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway: The Witch's Market

Top Three Reasons This Looks Like a Great Fall Read:

1. The setting is exotic.
2. The element of the mystical intrigues me. 
3. I'm always looking for diverse characters.

From the author of Secret of a Thousand Beauties and Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a beautifully written novel of self-discovery and intrigue.

Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.

When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.


Next Uncle Wang gently wrapped the red blindfold around my eyes so I would not be distracted by anything in this world. 

 After that he said, his tone very serious and respectful, “Now invite silently the loved one, god, goddess, immortal, or whomever you choose, to come to the altar. Don’t try to write in the sand yourself, but let the spirit do it.” 

I nodded and picked up the wand, mentally inviting Isabelle to come. I patiently waited but didn’t feel any presence. Then after what seemed an interminable wait, I felt something. Not Isabelle, but someone else. I didn’t know who this being was, but I could tell it was female. 

 She: Leave me and my husband in peace. 

Me: Who are you, and who’s your husband? 

She: He loves you, but you refuse him. 

Me: But I...haven’t done anything.... 

She: Yes, you have. 

Me: What? 

She: You have disturbed my rest. 

Me: What am I supposed to do? 

She: Don’t dig up the mud and the dirt. Know this: Whatever I did, I have paid the price. It was many years ago. Please, you are living. Forget us dead until your own time. 

 Me:Did you murder her? 

 She: You’re an outsider, so you don’t know our story or our life. If we didn’t get along, it makes no difference now. 

 Me: I’m just trying to help! 

She: You can’t. We will not come back anymore. 

 Then I was jolted back to the yang realm. Wang immediately untied the red cloth from around my eyes. I was dizzy and nauseous, so Uncle Wang had to help me to a chair. He and the few other temple visitors studied me curiously, as if I’d just returned from a hair-raising meeting with the King of Hell. 

 “You all right?” Wang asked with concern. 

 “I guess I’m... fine.” 

“But you’re pale and even trembling. Now come sit in my office and have some hot tea.” 

Once settled in his small office, Uncle Wang poured me tea and handed me an almond cake. “Senorita Chen, you don’t look well. Your face is paler than a ghost’s.” 

“I almost saw one.” 

“I see them all the time. You need not be frightened of ghosts. They’re more scared of you.” 

I wasn’t so sure about that last statement, as I was pretty scared myself. 

“So, have you also seen her?” I asked. 

 “Yes, I saw the one who just appeared to you.” 

I almost choked on my tea. “Did you really? What did she look like?” 

“I just felt her presence, couldn’t see her face clearly. She was haughty! Above everybody and everything—including the law. I think I knew this woman. She died in an accident. She comes back because she is still bitter. Miserable qi.” 

“Did she also see you?” 

“Of course not.” 

“Why not?” 

“You’re the one she came for, not me. I didn’t hear any words, just a loud buzz.” 

“Were you afraid when you saw her?” 

He laughed. “At my age, what do I have left to do? I don’t need to plan for the future, so I do whatever I want. If she wants to take me with her to the other side, she can be my guest. I’ll soon join her anyway. I’m prepared.” 

“How do you prepare?” 

“Senorita Chen, you’re too young to understand. If you really want to know, come back in fifty years.” 

But then he wouldn’t be here anymore. Unless like Laolao and Isabelle, he would come to me in my dreams. Perhaps he would. Though I’d only met Wang twice, I felt a great affection for him, perhaps a karmic link. 

 He handed me a sheet of paper covered in Chinese characters. “This is what I copied from your sand writing. I think it has the answers you’ve been seeking.” 

 After I took the papers, he added, “Don’t look at them now, when you’re still agitated. Wait until you have meditated and stilled your mind. 

 I thanked him profusely. 

 “May I ask if you had some unpleasant experiences lately?” 

I debated telling him about recent events. He was, after all, an old man and shouldn’t be troubled by the dirty and bloody affairs of this world. 

 When the word entered my mind, I involuntarily gasped. 

Uncle Wang looked at me with concern. “Are you all right, senorita Chen?” 

I took several breaths, trying to calm myself. “I’m... okay, don’t worry.” 

Should I tell him I’d just had a realization—was the “dirt” buried with Penelope’s body twenty years ago the fact that she had murdered Isabelle? 

But I kept my mouth shut. 

 “I will give you some advice,” he said. 

“I welcome any advice you can give me, Uncle Wang.” 

“Good. You can come back for a chat with me anytime. But don’t come back for another channeling.” He stared at me to see my response. 

“But why not?” 

 “Most cross the boundary between the realms of life and death but twice—at birth and at death. To do so more will severely damage your body and mind, or take years off your earthly life. You are young; enjoy the life of this world and forget the next for now.

We have two copies of The Witch's Market to give away to our readers. This giveaway is open to residents of the US. You must be 18+ years of age to win. Reading Lark is not responsible for prize shipment.

The giveaway runs from November 27 - December 4. Winner will be notified via email on December 5.


  1. I am interested in this novel because I think the fact the protagonist is an academic provides an interesting entree into the particular world of this novel, and the setting is entirely new to me. Thanks for this opportunity and cheers, Kara S


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