CM Magazine: The Ruined City. (The Golden Mask).
________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 40. . . .June 15, 2018


The Ruined City. (The Golden Mask).

John Wilson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, Oct., 2018.
292 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1970-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1972-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1971-9 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“He is a good boy,” Kun said to the tall, elegant woman seated cross-legged on the other side of the low table. “But his mind is always on either that kitchen girl, Ting, and her pet dog, or on his crazy dreams of becoming a wushu master.” He smiled at his guest.

“One day he will do great things,” the woman predicted. Her snow-white hair hung straight over her shoulders, framing a gentle, high cheekboned face. She returned Kun’s smile with gray eyes that hinted she could read his most intimate thoughts.

“I would like that day to be while he still makes and serves my tea.” The emperor’s smile faded, and his brow furrowed. He pulled at his beard thoughtfully. “But we have more important things to talk of than tea. Are the auguries true?”

Jingshen nodded slowly. “The signs are all there. The time of danger threatens to unleash the power of the Golden Mask. Sanxingdui is facing doom.”


The Ruined City is a novel with two distinct settings: one is the modern mythical town of Aylford complete with teens in high school going through the usual problems, and the other, the ancient city of Sanxingdui, an actual archaeological site from China’s bronze age. The heroes in Aylford include Howard in the tenth grade, a typical geek with all sorts of problems, and Cate, the Goth girl who claims to be a wu (a sort of oriental witch). The actors in Sanxingdui include the young servant boy, Chen, and the kitchen girl, Ting. To balance the characters even more, Chen has a black cat named Heimao and Ting has a small dog called Fu.

      The problem in Sanxingdui revolves around a prophecy leading to the fall of the city and the release of horrible ancient monsters who will bring about the end on humanity. The only thing holding the monsters back are the pieces of the Golden Mask buried deep beneath the walled city. A wizard has planned the overthrow of the city during an earthquake and the subsequent release of the gigantic monsters from another dimension. Chen and Ting must find a way to stop him.

      In Aylford, Howard has plenty of problems, including the local rich bully. Howard’s father, an archaeologist, is in an asylum because he is hearing and seeing things no one else can. Now Howard is having bad dreams about darkness and monsters. He meets the strange oriental Goth girl who suspects she knows what is going on. The old and new stories intertwine as the two separated groups attempt to stop the end of the world.

      The Ruined City is broken into several short chapters, each headed by the name of the location where it is set. The book includes a forward titled “A Warning: Do Not Voyage Far!” and ends with two pages of author’s notes and a page about the author. A tale of adventure and monsters,The Ruined City, with more than a nod to H.P.Lovecraft, should appeal to readers who enjoy a mystery and slimy monsters from another dimension. I suspect older readers other than the stated target market will also enjoy the story. I know I did.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writers groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy and science fiction in Winnipeg, MB.

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