Inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology, this sweeping fantasy is set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns 16, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell. When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.
Returning to the world of Silver Phoenix (2009), Pon adeptly weaves together fantasy elements and Chinese traditions and folklore in this coming-of-age fantasy. Growing up in Yuan Manor has been good for Skybright, a foundling orphan who was taken in by a wealthy family. Though her role is that of a handmaid to daughter Zhen Ni, the two girls have been best friends since birth. When a seer arrives from the capital, Skybright's future proves to be as murky as her past, with Madame Lo "unable to see her clearly." Soon after, Skybright is shocked one night when she transforms (temporarily) into a serpent demon, "a thick serpent coil snak behind her, where her legs should have been." With a war between the demons looming, Skybright learns to embrace her demon side, striking a balance between her newfound duties as leader and the normalcy of her previous life. Action, secrets, love, and a search for identity combine in a powerful tale about what ensues when the underworld and the real world collide. Ages 12 up.