When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.
That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.
As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.
This is the first book in a trilogy and one I actually got back in 2016 and only now got round to reading! I really wish I hadn’t left it so long.
Chapters alternate between past and present. In present day we meet Anna who wishes to find her birth mother but stumbles across an elderly lady with a story to tell. The past is told from the point of view of Jae-hee, who along with her sister was ordered to leave their home to work in a “boot camp”. Whilst this story is fiction, it is based on what actually happened during WW2. The Japanese army forcing young women to become comfort women which in other words means they were forced into sexual slavery.
I have to admit this wasn’t something I had ever really been aware of and the author highlights the inhumane actions against these women and how they never really got justice for what they had to endure. Some are only children themselves. It was heart-breaking reading these parts seeing the suffering and abuse that takes place in these camps. The stigma that follows Jae-hee was also upsetting to read.
The story centres round a family heirloom in the form of a comb. This isn’t any old comb though and comes with a history of it’s own. For me it added an extra layer to this story and has made me eager to see which direction the next two books in the trilogy will take.
Daughters of the Dragon is a story steeped full of history and legacies. The author’s story-telling had me quickly engaged and I picked my Kindle up at every given opportunity to hear more of Jae-hee’s journey into present day. It is a reminder of a part of history that should never be forgotten about as well as something that needs to be learned from. A tale of hope, courage and family ties. Can’t wait to read the next two books in the trilogy.