Jiangxi Province, China, 1941
Atop the fabled mountain of Lushan, celebrated for its temples, capricious mists and plunging ravines, perches a boarding school for the children of British missionaries. As her parents pursue their calling to bring the gospel to China's most remote provinces, ten-year-old Henrietta S. Robertson discovers that she has been singled out for a divine calling of her own.
Etta is quick to share the news with her dorm mates, and soon even Big Bum Eileen is enlisted in the Prophetess Club, which busies itself looking for signs of the Lord's intent. (Hark.) As rumours of war grow more insistent, so the girls' quest takes on a new urgency - and in such a mystical landscape, the prophetesses find that lines between make believe and reality, good and bad, become dangerously blurred. So Etta's pilgrimage begins.
A story of a child far from home and caught between two cultures, In A Land of Paper Gods marries exuberant imagination with sharp pathos, and introduces Rebecca Mackenzie as a striking and original new voice.
Rebecca Mackenzie spent her childhood in Thailand, Malaysia and India. She has MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She lives in London. IN A LAND OF PAPER GODS is her first novel.
Set in a missionary school in China... carries echoes of Empire of the Sun and The Poisonwood Bible — Observer (2016 Highlights)
Infused with a delicate, melancholy note of nostalgia, Mackenzie's depiction of a bygone world is vividly realised — Independent
Such a wonderful voice, very funny and hugely moving — Anna James @ The Bookseller
An evocative and involving novel with a wonderful setting — Woman & Home
A richly imagined novel that cleverly intertwines two cultures — Daily Mail
Mackenzie is a self-assured, poetic storyteller... This is a wonderful, special book. I inhaled it — Red
If you like your novels lyrical but pacy, look out for this beautiful debut — Elle
An imaginative and touching debut — Good Housekeeping
A soaring work of the imagination... a beautifully written book, powerfully moving but surprisingly funny, too — Herald
Rebecca Mackenzie's vigorous prose is original and highly evocative. The untameable beauty of China's Lushan mountain and the dangers that lie beyond are echoed in the dramatic landscapes that Etta must navigate within herself. Her fate will linger in your thoughts long after the story ends — Claire King, author of THE NIGHT RAINBOW
Really enjoyed IN A LAND OF PAPER GODS - a dreamlike tale, like a cross between Picnic at Hanging Rock and Empire of the Sun... lovely prose and a great setting — Stav Sherez
A beautifully poignant book... a story full of adolescent verve, young girls coming of age as the world around them falls apart, that remains somehow delightful, both playful and tender, as it breaks your heart. I loved it. — Lindsay Hawdon, author of JAKOB'S COLOURS
Henrietta S. Robertson is a beguiling, wilful and wonderfully realised creation, whose humour, imagination and yearning will captivate readers... this is a wonderful debut — Jackie Copleton, author of A DICTIONARY OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
This coming of age tale with a loveable protagonist, set in a fascinating time and a beautiful location is a breath-taking debut and one that will definitely capture many hearts, as it did my own — The Tattoed Book
Its pleasures come in discovering Etta's character, seeing her grow, and the atmosphere of melancholy and loss that infuses the book — Emerald Street
[A] beautifully imagined novel, at times whimsical and at others harrowing — Sunday Express S Magazine
An intriguing, well told story, beautifully descriptive of the China of that period — Choice
A beautifully conjured debut — Sainsbury's Magazine
A beautifully written coming of age story — Red - Books of 2016