WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Queen of the Dark Chamber by Christiana Tsai
Type: Autobiography, Biography, Christian, Non-fiction
Basic Plot: Christiana Tsai grew up in a wealthy Buddhist family that seemingly had every comfort provided for them. Looking for something more, though, Christiana goes to a Christian school and lives a life with Jesus that changes the lives of dozens of people.
Plot: 5/5 Excellent: The story is complete picture of the life of an individual that humbly lives for the Lord, even if they do not have talent and education.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: The authors tell the story in a simple, childish voice, recounting the life of an ordinary Christian. The pace was even, always at a good speed that left anticipation for what God would do next in Christiana’s life. Few, if any, parts of the story were boring or seemed as if they did not belong. Everything in it pointed to the glory of Jesus Christ in a meaningful way.
Moral: 5/5 Great: The moral of the story is how beautiful and peaceful life is with Jesus Christ and how hopeless and empty it is without him. Christiana recalls her empty life before Christianity, and again and again shows the lives of those she knew before they knew Jesus Christ. Rich and poor suffered greatly and in a variety of ways, but when they met Jesus Christ, the peace that entered their lives could only be called divine. A person who has always lived in a Christian home can learn about what life is like outside of God’s will just by reading the experiences of this woman and her friends and family. It also shows the meaning of just one life devoted to God. Christiana admits that she has “never been to Bible college, or theological seminary, and… [is] not a Bible teacher,” but that she is a “hunting dog” that brings people to her God. Fifty-five people in her family alone come to Jesus Christ by letting Him shine through her life. The beautiful culture of China, the horrors of World War II, and the foolishness of idolatry are also seen in this biography of a Christian woman.
Overall: 4½/5 Amazing: Everything about this book is recommendable concerning quality. I would recommend it to men, women, boys, and girls of all ages, to read and learn about God and his goodness, as well as the value of one Christian life.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Brief Mention: It is mentioned that the Japanese were lustful and raped women. It is mentioned that a girl was eventually rescued from a house of prostitution by Ms. Tsai’s friend. It is mentioned that men had concubines, one up to twelve, and that the one would not let them sleep until he chose one. It is mentioned that a man had at one point two wives. An unsaved woman lived with a man she was not married to “for seven years.” The Chinese look at a women’s underwear because it is western.
Violence: 2/5 Non-Descriptive Violence: A man slaps his grandmother and pushes his mother before having furniture thrown at him by another man. A man kicks his door apart. People are mentioned to throw rocks at others. A woman fights physically with her family, once pulling their hair and at other times throwing things. A boy sends his bad servants out for public beatings. A woman takes her idols and breaks them. It is mentioned that a man beat his wife and a woman her dog.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: It mentions that characters cursed or swore, though it is not said what they said.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Some Intense Content: A woman gets a mixture of diseases and nearly dies several times. She is bed ridden, nearly blind, paralyzed, and in pain for years. She once convulses. A poem mentions her pain.
A woman casts a devil out of a girl. The possessed girl eats worms, breaks through chains, and asks Jesus to save her. The author cuts out her flesh with rusty scissors and makes it into soup before feeding it to her sick father; she recounts how she is glad this did not accidentally cut an artery. Several women threaten to commit suicide via opium. A girl is nearly forced to commit suicide by drowning, hanging, or stabbing herself. Other people wish to kill themselves but do not. A woman has spinal problems and shrinks five inches. It is mentioned that many sick and elderly were sent to Japanese concentration camps and that many died. It is mentioned that many riots occur and kill or nearly kill people. One man is nearly drowned in a riot. A man writes on his walls that he wants his family members dead. A man hires some men to break his brother’s legs but fails. Two women witness soldiers murder a group of people. It mentions that a woman accidentally hurts herself moving a dresser. Girl’s feet are bound. A man points a gun at a person. It mentions that a woman was put in a straight jacket. It is mentioned that people believe a train has a god that will demand human sacrifices. A buffalo almost dies but is healed through prayer. It mentions that a church was bombed. It mentions that an earthquake happening is briefly mentioned. A man is mentioned to have almost no teeth. People cry and scream for many reasons, such as family members converting to Christianity, abuse, anger at losing, and foot binding. People are mentioned to have died, and several people die in the book from diseases but almost always with joy at seeing Heaven as they die. A woman goes into shock after her husband dies. People are commanded to kill foreigners, but a man refuses to do so. It is mentioned that the Japanese went “raping, burning, and looting” through Nanking, though not described much more than that. It is mentioned that people were afraid to use forks and knives because they thought they would accidentally cut themselves. It is mentioned that in history people through Opium crates into the ocean (think the Boston Tea Party). It is mentioned that a man provided for the sick and dying. People lie on train tracks to try to stop a train, though nobody gets hurt. It is mentioned once that a man was a war lord. Dysentery, fevers, malaria, pellagra, and typhoid are all mentioned. People mock the author as being sick and having a headache when she prays.
Religious Issues: 2/5 Mention of Foreign Religions and Some Controversial Christian Beliefs: The author is a Presbyterian and goes to the Presbyterian church. People talk about seeing visions of heaven, including the author, and one girl says she saw a vision of Jesus, though this last one was very likely a mental picture rather than a vision. Women street preach and talk at Bible seminars. The author has a godmother. A boy tears a girl’s Bible and hymnbook up, and a woman burns some girls’ Bibles. Though the author does not believe in works to get to heaven, when once asked by a woman if one needed to take Sunday off to be a Christian, she quotes Matthew ML.
It is mentioned that a Buddhist temple in America taught that Jesus was a Buddhist; the temple combines Christian and Buddhist worship in song and rituals. The author is disturbed by this and thinks it is very sacrilegious. A false Christian man mocks the Bible, denies the deity of Jesus Christ, and compares the Bible to “Greek myths.” Christiana and her family grow up Buddhist. It is briefly mentioned that they believe you come back after death. It mentions that they burned things, believing it will appear literally after they die, the author helping with this once after she was saved, though repenting soon after. People burn incense, bow, and pray to false gods and their ancestors. People take vegetarian vows, and one woman has many rosaries and a blanket with Buddhist verses. She plans to be buried with the former. A woman tells her children to promise have their life cut short if their father’s will be prolonged. Buddhist monks and nuns are mentioned, and the author at one time considers becoming one. Buddhist and Confusion temples are mentioned, and one girl goes into one. People do things to get good luck, such as clean. A person is hired to read the author’s horoscope, and the astrological ritual done in a traditional Chinese marriage is described. People are angry that their Christian descendants will not serve them after they die. People are afraid of evil spirits and their ancestors, and a man commands that evil spirits punish the wicked. It is mentioned that people believe that a train has a god in it. Some people believe that land is haunted. A woman is mentioned to be Jewish and that she recognizes Passover. Women and a man are mentioned to be atheists.
“Devilish” is used for descriptive purposes, and foreign people are called “devils.”
Magic: ½/5 brief Mention: “Fairyland” and “magic” are used for descriptive purposes. A pavilion is named Fairy Fox Pavilion, and a street is named Street of the Coiled-Dragon. A magician is mentioned to have performed magic tricks.
Others: People are addicted to opium, the author herself once trying it. It is mentioned that the United Kingdom forced China to accept Opium against their will, and the Opium War is mentioned. People are mentioned to smoke, and cigarettes are mentioned. People are mentioned to watch traditional Chinese dances, and it is mentioned that unsaved people went dancing. People drink wine, and it is mentioned that one couple would often fall asleep in the hall way from their drunkenness before they got saved. It mentions that while wine gave others “happy dreams” the author could not find any through it. People are addict gamblers, and it is mentioned that a man went to a “gambling orgy” (which has nothing to do with orgy as we know it today). “Gamble” is used for descriptive purposes. Saved and unsaved men wear their hair in queues, which are Chinese braids.
Overall: 2½/5 Older Child Appropriate: I would recommend this book for children twelve for mention mature things (such as prostitution and rape), dealing with non descriptive sinful lifestyles, and for talking about Christian beliefs not everyone believes in.