Title / Daughters of the Dragon
Author / William Andrews
Publication Date / 2014
Star Rating / ★★★★★
No spoilers ahead. This is a historical fiction book set during WWII. Throughout this time Korean women were forced to be ‘comfort women’ (basically sex slaves) for the Japanese soldiers who were occupying their country. It is estimated that around 200, ooo women were serving an army of seven million Japanese soldiers against their will. This is the story of one of these woman. To my knowledge it is not a true story – in that Ja-hee is a fictional character, but it is heavily based on things that actually happened. It is a historical fiction but I believe the history is very accurate. Also, trigger warning for rape, sexual assault and violence.
This is such an important book to read. I knew next to nothing about ‘comfort women’ and the ‘comfort stations’ going into this book and it really opened my eyes to this part of Korea’s history. It is vital to acknowledge these parts of history, no matter what – I think it is shocking that it hasn’t been fully acknowledge by Japan. For years every Wednesday women who were forced into similar situations protest, most being 80/90 years old – asking Japan for an apology and reparations. After doing some research, it seems that last year Japan apologised and has agreed to pay 1 bn yen (£5.6 million) to fund the victims of the comfort stations – this information was sourced from this BBC article. It was written so you got a lesson of Korean history as well as the story itself. The history is incorporated very well and is not over done. As someone who loves history, it was fascinating learning about a region I know very little about. It was a wonderful blend of history and fiction – it never felt daunting or overwhelming. Not only is it an important, but it was also fascinating to learn about this period.
It is quite simply written but I think that really lends itself to the story itself. I liked that there were no poetic or flowery lengths of writing – it was a story simply told about a grandmother and her granddaughter. You can really feel the emotions of the characters throughout. The writing also means that it is very readable/ accessible for a variety of readers, although due to the mature content I would not give this to children, obviously. I thought the more brutal parts were dealt with very well – the author gives you enough information to see the brutality but doesn’t give you all the gory details and doesn’t make to so it is gratuitous. The dialogue flows well throughout and rarely felt awkward. I liked the inclusion of some Korean words within the story and they were explained without disrupting the flow of the story or dialogue. It was engaging throughout – I read it in a few sittings because I needed to know what was going to happen. Ja-hee’s strength is incredible and really shines through the book. This book was just an incredible read.
Overall this was an incredible book and I think more people should read it. It is such an important book in terms of its contents and it is written quite simply while still being very powerful. I highly recommend this book and I think everyone should read it. I am eagerly waiting for the release of Andrews next book, The Dragon Queen, but I don’t know when it is being released.
See you next time