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Ebony Gate - Review

Updated: Nov 13, 2023


*I received an audio copy from Tor Books & Macmillian Audio via NetGalley. All reviews are my own.*


Talk about fire! I do not remember what made me stop and look at this book, but I am happy my nosiness won this round. By duo authors Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle, Ebony Gate is their official big publishing debut. Ebony Gate is an action-pack story about a female-John Wick clearing her family’s blood debt with a Shinigami, the Death God himself, by tracking down the stolen gate that holds back vengeful ghosts of the underworld. I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me, it was a ride!


"Emiko Soong belongs to one of the eight premier magical families of the world. But Emiko never needed any magic. Because she is the Blade of the Soong Clan. Or was. Until she’s drenched in blood in the middle of a market in China, surrounded by bodies and the scent of blood and human waste as a lethal perfume.
The Butcher of Beijing now lives a quiet life in San Francisco, importing antiques. But when a shinigami, a god of death itself, calls in a family blood debt, Emiko must recover the Ebony Gate that holds back the hungry ghosts of the Yomi underworld. Or forfeit her soul as the anchor.
What's a retired assassin to do but save the City by the Bay from an army of the dead?"

I ate this book up in two days. And yes, you guessed it, I got to thank the audiobook gods for this one. The listening session is clocked at 14 hours and some change, so you know the book is thique. I am ecstatic to take another audio dive with Natalie Naudus. Her name may sound familiar as she did the reading for Daughter of the Moon Goddess. Yall know how I feel about the Celestial series! I’m comfortable knowing a familiar voice dominated this read because I can’t see anybody else owning this story better than Naudus.

Ok, now about the story. The idea that Vee and Bebelle can create a fantastical narrative, filled with Asian folklore, secret societies, and ancient prophecies set in modern Chinatown in San Fransico, was a well-done blended family. Though the beginning was slow, and it took me a second to figure out the time setting wasn’t futuristic, the world filled out as the tale of Emiko Soong enticed you to learn more about the hoards, Clans, and hidden realms that hide in Chinatown.


Between slicing and dicing enemies and ghosts, getting to know Soong was fun. She’s a former badass BabaYaga that spelled fear into those who crossed her path to now be the disgraced broken blade of her clan. We see how she wanted to be more than just “The Butcher” of Beijing. I also loved seeing her dynamic with other characters. We got to see a different version of her anytime a new person was introduced, and I love that it shows the complexities in her.

Though the book is part of a trilogy, Ebony Gate can hold its own as a standalone. It leaves a mystic air that pairs with curiosity and finality. But there are a few questions I would love to get answers to. Like, what’s Soong’s magical talent? When do we meet her mother? Can we see more of the cute Tiger kitty?


Overall I rated this book 5 stars. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I’m here for the next two in the trilogy to come out. Vee and Bebelle, you’ll get me! The synopsis can use a little work (In the beginning, it grabbed my attention, but after finishing the book and circling back to that, it seems as if the short blurb didn’t quite hit the mark), and of course, I recommend the audio. I am here for the Phoenix clan to whoop ass and take over San Fransico. I will be on the lookout!


Ebony Gate debuts July 11, 2023


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