#BookReview: The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt

The Palest InkReviewer: Annie

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, The Palest Ink depicts Benfu’s coming-of-age during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution.


Kay Bratt introduces us to China during a time of cultural challenges, and she writes with the confidence of a historian. I always enjoy historical fictions, and it is safe to say that Kay Bratt definitely delivered! I was in awe of her knowledge and details.

Pony Boy and Benfu are friends from opposites “sides of the tracks”, and this is a real look at how this impacts their lives in China. The struggle is real. This is a story of a beautiful friendship, honor and respect. I was truly wrapped up from beginning to end.

“The Palest Ink” is full of intense character development. You really get to know these men. Together these two men will attempt to change history. Will they succeed? Will they lose themselves along the way?

I would have given it five stars, but it was a bit too long for my liking…

4.5 Stars

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