In Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea, debut author Rita Chang-Eppig picks apart the legacy of power and examines it against the contexts of patriarchal and colonialist oppression. Following her pirate fleet after the death of her husband and amid the tumultuous politics of the early 19th-century South China Sea, Shek Yeung’s journey unfolds itself as she questions her rise to power and what it truly means to be free. At once a swashbuckling adventure, postcolonial historical fiction, and discourse of motherhood, Chang-Eppig’s novel does not shy away from or sidestep the complexities that come with a story of power and the journey to get there. That Shek Yeung is a ruthless pirate leader, former sex worker, and struggling mother does not deter her from being a great adventure hero. Instead, these components of her personhood intertwine together to flesh out a multidimensional and painfully real character.
Chang-Eppig’s writing is exciting but acute, taking the grandiose spirit of a pirate story and dissecting it in a close examination of gender and power – and how the socialization of both blur and rewrite reality into what we are taught is history. With storytelling and commentary as sharp as a cutlass, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is a riveting, unputdownable novel that slashes through the facade of oppressor narratives and whisks the reader away on a new journey for deeper, courageous understanding.