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Tundra Press, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Liu has a summer internship at CanBoard, part of an international effort to develop a digital, planetary infrastructure through the rapidly developing technology of Augmented Reality. That was before her world turned upside-down.


Summoned to her grandmother’s deathbed, Miranda finds herself entrusted with a family heirloom – a seventeenth century geomancer’s compass – as well as a sacred mission. It’s now up to Miranda and her irritating, dyslexic cousin Brian to lift the curse that is slowly decimating their dysfunctional Chinese-Canadian family, a curse that dates back to 1908 and a period of extreme anti-Chinese sentiment in Canada. In order to do this, Miranda and Brian must employ Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and old Chinese magic. The question is: can they stop bickering long enough to save their family – and themselves – before it’s too late?

With humour and suspense, The Geomancer’s Compass imagines a world in the near future – a future that for the Liu family seems doomed by the ghosts of the past.



“A Chinese Canadian family has suffered generations of bad luck and two 16 year olds are sent on a mission to undo the curse. It employs a bit of science fiction, Canadian history, and a well-paced mystery. This pat summary doesn’t do justice to the creativity Ms. Hardy injects throughout this interesting story. The teens must go to Saskatchewan and, in doing so, learn about the history of Chinese immigrants working on the railway in the 1800s. They solve the mystery of their missing ancestor, using virtual reality and avatars to help them along their way.  There are many unusual elements to Ms. Hardy’s story. She quickly develops her characters so that you have definite elements to help you understand who they are. She deals with obvious issues, like historic persecution, but also digs into how individuals treat each other. She uses technology or elements of Chinese culture to help the story along without making them distractions. This is a thoughtful book that delivers an intriguing adventure. The context is excellent for a wide range of ages. Strong Grade 4 readers can easily handle the text, while older readers may find the language and story less challenging but enjoy the interactions of the main characters. Older readers are also more likely to appreciate Ms. Hardy’s treatment of prejudice and the history of Moose Jaw’s gangsters.”

David Whelan

“The Geomancer’s Compass will do well among middle grade aged readers, especially those interested in mystery and early Canadian history and Chinese culture themed novels. Hardy has crafted a well-thought-out tale, one which is equally engaging as it is enlightening.”

Recommended, CM Magazine

“Miranda Lu is a sixteen-year-old computer geek in 2021, when virtual reality is a completely immersive experience. It’s also a platform that can be accessed by the spirit of her dead great-great-grandfather, who sends Miranda and her cousin Brian on a mission to break the family curse. The curse’s origins in Chinese tradition make this a thoughtful as well as exciting read for the younger set.”

The DC Spotlight Newspaper

“From the get-go, Geomancer’s Compass soars with an energy that never lets up… There is so some much going on here one wonders if the plot might collapse under its own weight, but Hardy deftly sustains a highly imaginative story that combines disparate times, ideas and characters into a very convincing tale and provides a whole lot of fun along the way.”

Catharine Leggett, Goodreads

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is fast-paced, the dialogue cheeky, and there are meaty undercurrents about computer-enhanced reality, prejudice, and the lives of Chinese-Canadians.”

Sharon Wildwind, for Story Circle Book Reviews

“Science fiction with roots! . . . . Lots of humor in this utterly original multicultural scifi/fantasy mystery!”

Karen Ball, Goodreads

“The book’s rather sombre tone is tastefully balanced with a good measure of humour. Brian, more so than Miranda, with his insatiable compulsion to talk with strangers and his intense hyperactivity is the driving force behind much of the book’s lighter moments. Together, however, they are the perfect complement to each other, despite being near complete opposites. By the end of the story, each gains a greater understanding of one another, but rather surprisingly; it is Miranda who learns that she has a lot more growing up to do. The Geomancer’s Compass will do well among middle grade aged readers, especially those interested in mystery and early Canadian history and Chinese culture themed novels. … Nevertheless, Hardy has crafted a well-thought-out tale, one which is equally engaging as it is enlightening.”

Andrew Laudicina, CM Magazine

“Melissa Hardy melds the past and the future into an unexpected storyline in The Geomancer’s Compass while enlightening readers about some Chinese traditions and concepts, including those unmindfully adopted by others, such as feng shui and chi. While I had been under the mistaken belief that The Geomancer’s Compass was a tool from medieval times (okay, I was wrong), I was delighted to realize the book bridged Canadian history (even if it isn’t all flattering) with science and fantasy. While many readers may not be as enamoured with history as I am, I was engrossed with details about Moose Jaw’s underground tunnels, about the gangsters who established business in Canada during Prohibition and how Chinese immigrants braved their mistreatment. Sadly, this is the history that “illuminates the future” (see the quote from Alexis de Tocqueville above). Luckily Miranda is able to use her tech skills to help right the wrongs of the past, which consequently allows her to see beyond herself (her germaphobic nature definitely reflects her self-absorption) and appreciate her valuable heritage. Just as a lo p’an is used to balance energies, The Geomancer’s Compass capably balances the past and the future while harmonizing Miranda’s rich essences.”

Helen K. CanLit for Little Canadians

The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council
during the writing of The Geomancer's Compass.

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