{Story Diary} East Flows The River by Michelle Kan

Feb 19, 2020

Happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week!! In honor of Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, Michelle Kan released her Aromantic Chinese fairytale, East Flows The River. Though it's a novella, it's still my favorite read of 2020 so far and my favorite of her work. To celebrate in a small way, I created a (non-spoilery) Story Diary post for East Flows The River.

east flows the river michelle kan aro chinese rep
East Flows The River by Michelle Kan
Fantasy, Novella
LGBTQ+ (Aromantic rep), Asian (Chinese) rep
February 15, 2020

A Maiden, a Fox, and a long journey home.

Ties that bridge rivers, dreams that touch Heaven, and the magic of the places we call Home.

(In which a Heavenly Maiden and a Fox Spirit search for the places they belong.)

An Aromantic Chinese Fairytale.

East Sea

"At the end of the River lies the Eastern Sea," the Maiden began. "The great blue expanse that signals the edge of the world. Therein lies the palace of the Dragon King of the East Sea, the sovereign of its swells and storms, and God of the clouds and rains."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

The East Sea is one of the Four Seas that make up the boundaries of ancient China. In Chinese folklore, East Sea is the palace of the Dragon King of the East Sea, Ao Guang, who is responsible for the storms and tides. Kan does a beautiful job of seamlessly weaving the Dragon King folklore into East Flows The River.

Learn more about the legends of the Dragon King folklore on Mythopedia. Or if there are better and accurate resources, please leave a link in the comments below! :)

Righteous God of Blessings and Virtue

"But even the most seasoned of travellers need places to rest. Especially one as generous as the God of Blessing and Virtue."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

The Righteous God of Virtue and Blessing, formal name Fu De Zheng Shen, is a god of prosperity and wealth in Chinese folklore.

Chinese Lunar New Year

[Image Source]

From the author's acknowledgements in the back of the book:


"There are fifteen days in the Chinese Lunar New Year. Each of them serves a different purpose and has its own distinct traditions, and I've woven these traditions into the fabric of this story. While the Chinese Lunar is best known abroad for its more lively festivities, the final day of traditional celebrations is marked by a more subdued affair -- the Lantern Festival.

In the Lantern Festival, families hang colourful paper lanterns outside their doors as a way to lead wayward spirits home and invite good luck for the New Year. It is a day to welcome the Gods and acknowledge your ancestors, but most importantly, it is a day for reunion and for family."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River


east flows the river michelle kan moodboard aesthetic 

"Once, there were many Weaving Girls. They lived and worked together in harmony, weaving day after day in perfect contentment. They never longed for more than the felicity of their endless weaving, and they never desired anything other than the comfort of their eternal Sisterhood."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

"There were tales about the River. Of how it had been present since the dawn of time and how it was the very blood of the earth itself. Of how it was the source of those mortal beings who called themselves men, and how it both gave life and stole it in equal measure."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

"All the sweetest fruit in the earthly realm cannot compare to the Peaches of Heaven," it said quietly. "And as my Lady can tell, our earthly counterparts are not even yet in season. But if she will accept a humble offering, please know that this represents my sincerest wish - that my Lady may find her way back home and reunited with her Sisters."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

"From the sash at her waist, the Maiden unfastened the small copper bell on its silken thread. It chimed sweetly as she fastened it around the Fox's neck, bronze and orange hues gleaming in he light of the sun.
"A gift for a fine Fox," she said. "For its hundredth year to come - and as my deepest gratitude for its guidance and company."
The Fox tried to pull away, whiskers bristling in embarrassment.
"Please, my Lady--"
"Neither the greenest of jade--"
"--there is no need--"
"--nor the sweetest of Peaches in Heaven could compare to the friendship that you have shown me, my friend. Please accept this as a symbol of my own appreciation."

--Michelle Kan, East Flows The River

The friendship between the Maiden and her Fox companion was strong and incredibly wholesome. This story focused a lot on their friendship as well as the Sisterhood between the Maiden and her Sisters.

Michelle Kan is an independent filmmaker/videographer, writer and artist based in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa.

By day she runs Fish & Swallow Productions, an independent film and online content production studio dedicated to the documenting of arts/cultural events and the spotlighting of artists, creatives and other extraordinary individuals in and around Wellington and the rest of New Zealand.

When not behind the camera or editing footage, she's also a screenwriter and author of speculative fiction. A lifelong storyteller and creative writer, she specialises in creating dynamic urban fantasy and gentle Chinese fairytales – all told through an asexual and aromantic lens.

Not to be limited in her creative outlets, she's also a Chinese brush artist, drawing from traditional Chinese brush art techniques to produce both modern and traditional-style illustrations.

Michelle is passionate about the arts, exploring her cultural heritage through her creative output, and is a lover of graphic novels, video games, action/martial arts films and parkour – all profound influences which helped her shape the content that she likes to produce.

empty kingdom. Design by Berenica Designs.