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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
"The Girl Mechanic of Wanzhou" is a historical novel set in a fictional city in China in 1902. Zun is the daughter of a mechanic and a letter writer. She spends her days with her father, Ba, in the forge and has been working with him on his plans to build a bicycle factory. Zun is lucky -- her parents are not traditional, and her feet are not bound, leaving her free to run and be active. In the first chapter, tragedy strikes Zun; her father is killed by an assassin and her mother is severely injured. The Magistrate then confiscates all their goods with the exception of Ba's bicycle which Zun has hidden away. When Ma is captured by soldiers and imprisoned, she leaves word for Zun to go to Ma's home village for help.
Marjorie Sayer's "Girl Mechanic" is a most impressive book and is one of the best ones I have read in quite a long time. There are action and adventure side-by-side with passages of incredible beauty and an easily accessible and vibrant look into the culture and world of China at that time. Zun is an intense and intriguing character. It is fun to watch her describe how a bicycle works using plates and a strand of hair and to see how she works out solutions to the problems she faces. Her interactions with the martial arts instructor Shifu and the healer Hei are particularly interesting and enjoyable. When I finished the book, I was smiling and, frankly, wanted more. No, I am not saying that there could have been more story as this book is fabulous, just as it is. I am just very pleased to have found this author and hope to be reading a lot more by her.