K-Ming Chang

fiction lgbtqia+ magical realism
adventurous challenging reflective slow-paced

272 pages | first published 2020

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family's queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth–and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the subversive storytelling of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and girlhood.

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challenging 78%
dark 50%
mysterious 50%
reflective 46%
emotional 44%
adventurous 18%
tense 18%
sad 14%
funny 12%
inspiring 4%
hopeful 2%
informative 2%


medium 50%
slow 47%
fast 2%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 77% | A mix: 13% | N/A: 4% | Plot: 4%

Strong character development?

Yes: 43% | It's complicated: 36% | No: 14% | N/A: 4%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 50% | No: 30% | Yes: 19%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 85% | It's complicated: 9% | N/A: 2% | No: 2%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 64% | It's complicated: 19% | No: 9% | N/A: 7%

Average rating