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There once existed an honorable founder of this panguan school of cultivation. His reputation was illustrious, but nowadays nobody dared to mention him. Even if they did, all they said was, “He met a miserable end.”

Only Wen Shi still abided by the rules. Every day, he would pay respects to the founder’s ferocious, colorful portrait, but because of that he ended up summoning a sickly tenant.

The tenant stood in front of the portrait and asked, “Who drew this?”

Wen Shi: “Me.”

Don’t ask. If you do, you’ll just end up feeling touched.

Associated Names
One entry per line
Phán Quan
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Recommendation Lists
  1. Danmei
  3. Master-disciple(servant), shixiong-shidi, tutor-wa...
  4. Quero ler
  5. Master/Disciple Relationship

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Date Group Release
06/08/24 Tiny Salt Translations c100
05/13/24 Tiny Salt Translations c99
04/15/24 Tiny Salt Translations c98
03/26/24 Tiny Salt Translations c97
03/05/24 Tiny Salt Translations c96
12/22/23 Tiny Salt Translations c95
11/22/23 Tiny Salt Translations c94
10/16/23 Tiny Salt Translations c93
09/20/23 Tiny Salt Translations c92
08/30/23 Tiny Salt Translations c91
08/06/23 Tiny Salt Translations c90
07/01/23 Tiny Salt Translations c89
06/14/23 Tiny Salt Translations c88
05/27/23 Tiny Salt Translations c87
05/11/23 Tiny Salt Translations c86
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13 Reviews sorted by

tinysalt rated it
December 28, 2020
Status: c117
Translator here, leaving yet another probably biased review :^)

Panguan is a story about a love that outlasts a millennium. It’s the kind of story that you read and say, I wish I had someone who loves me like that, who will do everything they can possibly do to protect me and save me. Panguan is a story about grief and attachments and helping others move on, and maybe finding some solace if you need it yourself. Panguan has its serious moments, undoubtedly, but Mu Su Li always finds ways... more>> to weave in light touches of humor that prevent the story from getting too dark.

Panguan means judge of the underworld, but in this novel, panguan are the people who help undo ‘cages, ’ or lingering attachments that prevent people who have died from truly moving on.

The novel centers around the MC (who’s actually one of the ‘ancestors’ of panguan) in the modern day as he goes on numerous cage-breaking adventures with one of his great-nth-disciples and the ML (the founder of panguan). Eventually, we get to untangle the MC and ML’s honestly kind of heartbreaking past, and we learn that all is not as it seems in the panguan circle.

If you like pining, supernatural shenanigans, horror/mystery, mastery/disciple dynamics, secret identities, tsun MCs, indulgent/godly MLs, power couples, mutual self-sacrifice, and (kind of) modern cultivation, then I highly recommend Panguan. (It’s not that scary if you’re afraid of horror, I promise!)

As always, Mu Su Li’s writing is beyond excellent, and I hope I can convey even half of her prowess in my own translation :’) I’ll be putting my tl;dr summary below the spoiler cut for those who want a little more explanation on the plot (contains very minor spoilers, but everything is revealed in the first five chapters!).


The story follows Wen Shi - a 1000+ year old panguan specializing in puppetry who also happens to be missing his soul/some memories and is stuck in a cycle of rebirth for ~reasons~ - and his cowardly great-nth-disciple Xia Qiao as they help resolve ‘cages’ while looking for Wen Shi’s soul.

Somehow they end up summoning this ‘sickly tenant’ to their house named Xie Wen who has the most poisoned soul Wen Shi has ever seen. Xie Wen is all around just kind of weird and Bad News in modern panguan circles, but Wen Shi lets him tag along on their cage-breaking adventures bc Wen Shi doesn’t fit in either and he generally just doesn’t really care. Xie Wen is also not totally incompetent, which is a plus. (Xie Wen also may or may not be the founder of panguan named Chen Budao, who is 1000++ years old and was once Wen Shi’s omnipotent shizun who saved him when he was a kid.)

Eventually their pasts unravel and we get some delicious mmmm top-tier angst and pining. Also prepare to get spooked. (Cages feature: dolls, creepy smiling ladies, too realistic escape rooms, rain zombies/cult rituals, and more!)

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zintl rated it
April 5, 2021
Status: c117
This is one of those novels where everything that is set up pays off. Mechanisms like the cages give the author a way to progress the plot in a monster-of-the-week format, but Mu Su Li takes absolute advantage of the expectations that come with the trope to deliver a relationship that is slowly building and at the same time being slowly revealed. The way this novel engages with time produces a sustained undercurrent of longing that is thematically reflected in the unfinished business of the cages. The way the MC... more>> and ML slip in and out of time, away from each other and back together again, is also very tender, in both the painful and the gentle meanings of the word.

Mutual devotion - check
Teasing, adorable nicknames - check
Iconic declarations of identity and loyalty - check
Badass MC - check
Badass ML - check

The world-building pays. Off. And it goes off. The escalation works so well; the stakes are believable and the characters absolutely earn their ending. The rated-M chapter??? Hot. As. Hell.

The devotion is unbelievable and fierce as f*ck.

The writing in Chinese is stunning, and translator-laoshi is doing a beautiful, beautiful job!!!!!!!

Horror: 7/10 (while it engages in the conventions of the genre, it's not horror-horror, more psychological thriller?) <<less
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May 24, 2023
Status: c86
y'all pls don't let the ongoing tl discourage you from reading this Right Fuсking Now the slow suffering is so, so worth it;

panguan is a unique modern cultivation story: it's all about undoing cages and freeing the deceased from what prevents them from finding peace in the afterlife. the abovementioned cages refer to spaces that are formed from the residual feelings of regret, grief or anguish of the people who passed away. this clever invention of musuli's enables her to tell multiple stories in a format that resembles unlimited flow... more>> (down to the suspense and horror elements), but the end result is something much more poignant and bittersweet than what that genre would offer you. it's well-paced: each arc offers a different story, and we get to learn more about the characters as they solve mysteries and think their way around the enclosed spaces they're trapped in most of the time. the seemingly randomly appearing cages connect at times not with only each other, but also with the backstories of the characters we follow, making the plot seem all the more intentional and carefully planned. and I can't forget all the interesting techniques showcased here: the cultivators use puppetry, divination, arrays, spells, and occasionally a mix of them all—flying swords and qi deviations, you are Not the stars of the show here.

in classic musuli fashion, the mains are joined by a cast of supporting characters that are there for most of the plot and are making troubles for the mains almost just as frequently. we have the cowardly xia qiao, the 'fake it 'til you make it' rebellious teen zhou xu, his cool and pampered aunt, zhang lan, and her exasperated brother and puppetry fanboy, zhang yilan. other than them, we also have the other panguan cultivators in recurring roles, as well as all the people from the cages. the mains are immortals who have a story of their own that goes a whole millennium back, and saying too much would spoil some great plot points, so i'll keep it short: there's wen shi, who lost a good chunk of his soul and the memories that came with it (dw, he's pretty chill about it and is working on getting it back) and xie wen, who smiles like he knows something you don't and is about to cough himself to death one of these days (dw, he's pretty chill about it and not working on getting better). their interactions do remind me of other musuli couples i've read about (the classic baseless petty bickering in the first half), but they definitely have their own charm that will make reading about them a pleasure. keywords here: devotion, tenderness, trust, sacrifice, and so, so much love. the slowburn is expected, and much appreciated—i can't wait to see their relationship develop even further!


the tags spoil this but whatever, just wanna point out that this Is a master/disciple romance and despite the fact that I do rly love this novel as a whole, and that the romantic relationship we get to see develop takes place a thousand years after they've left behind the power imbalance of master/disciple relationship, i'll always have that ick about one partner raising the other from childhood so when I get to the end and rate this, I already know it's not going above a 4.4 star rating


lastly, i've gotta give it to tinysalt: their translation is among the best danmei tl's i've ever read, and perfect for musuli's style of writing. the updates are never oversaturated with tl notes, and the choices they make in the text itself make for a pleasurable read with a good flow that fits the narration well. I think they managed to keep everything the author would've deemed as important, while adapting it into a language that has to use different structures, idioms, etc. mtl shouldn't even be mentioned when there's someone working this hard to give the intl readers the best possible reading experience of a novel, so if you're hesitant to start while the tl is unfinished, my best advice would be to wait it out—it's worth it, I promise. but also like.. why not join the dark side rn... there's a discord n all, u wont be suffering alone.... <<less
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Alysx rated it
July 7, 2021
Status: Completed
"When old friends reunite in the mortal realm, yet are unaware of it." It's been a while since I've read such a great story. Ultimately this is a story of devotion and love spanning a thousand of years.

The world building is quite in-depth, the interactions among the characters are realistic and the storyline is engaging. I particularly liked how mini flashbacks are littered throughout the book, rather than having a huge flashback arc which disconnects from the present time. Also, the MC and ML's dynamics is wonderful (and cute!), the... more>> teasing between them made me chuckle out loud numerous times. I'll say that overall there's a sufficient dose of knives to make you feel the oomph while also retaining an abundance of humor to balance things out. While it is tagged as horror, personally it wasn't scary at all. It does contains many conventional tropes for a horror theme though. <<less
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janie rated it
May 11, 2021
Status: c19
Currently writing as the novel isn't finished translated, but I really enjoy reading this so far. I solemnly leave reviews because I get too lazy and also I don't know how much is too much for spoilers.

This is a refreshing plot of "ghost catching" though not really horror-y or scary. The interactions between the characters are too good! I adore our MC & ML, but Xiao Qiao is quite adorable too. I like that everyone in the novel serves a purpose so far. Nothing of a random introduction for the... more>> story to flow, not that I'm against it. Just most of the time, it tends not to be well-executed.

I originally thought that the story would get kind of boring, but it was the complete opposite! The author did a great job giving information needed as the plot thickened.

I'm excited to read how their relationship grows and their past!

P.S. Translator does a really great job! &Lt;3 I personally like the pacing of the releases, keep me away from procrastinating. :) <<less
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Crystalesdog rated it
December 28, 2023
Status: c95
It's so well written that I thought that I was on chapter 200 when I'm not even 100 chapters in. I don't mean that in a bad way, it's kind of like when you read a really moving passage and you only noticed it's not even more than 7 paragraph long? That's how it is.

I firmly believe that length doesn't equal quality, and wordiness usually just makes my eyes glaze over but this novel had no problem at all. Just with a few chapters I'm already incredibly attached to MC.... more>> The ML and MC's relationship is so layered it feels like I'm digging into a lasagna.


From master-disciple, it turned into forbidden love from the disciple. One thing I really liked that the author used is actually the use of worldly bonds to connect the two lovers together. Suddenly it really does feel like only they two harbors the whispers of the wind, like two children secretly hushing each other to hear the voice of the waves through a sea shell.

It feels like a personal moment you know? Everytime a flashback occurs, it feels... Quiet? It feels like I'm intruding into an actual conversation. It feels so natural I swore I hallucinated the scene for a bit.

I also really like the author made it so they're dependant on each other. Thankfully the romance didn't start from when MC was a child, but it certainly builds up from childhood.


Putting aside everything, I admire the way that the author really does leave no strings loose. At first I felt that the arcs were a bit disjointed, but as more comes crawling out it was all stringed up like cheese one after another onto an uncertain scheme. Honestly, I didn't even notice some of the foreshadowing.

Ah right, foreshadowing.

The author really loves using it, sometimes when rereading you'd feel your face swell a bit from the foreshadowing. It's so obvious that you feel like a dumbass missing it but also remote enough that if you were to read it casually you'd miss it entirely.

When I say every loose strings is tied, it really is so. Not a hyperbole, not at all. Even the first chapter's loose string is dug up by the author, leaving me stupefied. I'll be honest, if the author didn't mention it, I'd probably forgot.

Anyway, all in all, solid 5. No complain. Haven't read the ending yet but I can tell it's right around the corner.

Side note, reading this novel feels like drinking a bitter tea with a sweet aftertaste. Autumn breeze with no where else to brush. It's so sad that when you see the characters finally get their just endings that you feel like an old grandpa waving the youngsters away to the bustling city while you stay in your traditional village. <<less
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saphire8626 rated it
March 27, 2022
Status: Completed
I was a fan of Mu Su Li since Global University Entrance Examination and Mou Mou. Unfortunately, her later few books are kind of hit-and-miss for me.

This book is about the protagonist, a panguan, a cultivation line that began a few thousand years ago and continues till today. Their duties are to resolve the last wishes and grievances of ghosts who don't want to move on so that the ghosts can leave in peace. These ghosts create 'cages' from their resentment and grievances that are like life-like delusions/fantasies/illusions that outsiders... more>> like panguan enter.

This book felt kind of scattered. The author says that she meant for this as a lighthearted romp, but her grandmother ended up in hospital so she had to take a long break, and it also meant that the second half took on a darker tone. So, the first third is very reminiscent of Global University Entrance Examination where it's kind of slow-paced and the protagonist solves locked-room mu*der mysteries (the 'cages').

The middle part is a lot of angst. The book delves into the events of the protgaonist's past, leading all the way back to when panguan was founded and it's really bittersweet that the protagonist, a panguan, is unable to let someone he loves leave and goes to crazy lengths to keep that person alive. This was a huge plot twist. I actually liked this part a lot because it was so sad 😭 and very poignant sometimes.

The last part is really disjointed (to me at least). There was the Zhang family head villain and large-scale battles and mysteries being unraveled, characters from the past popping up, but then the Zhang family head was killed off quite quickly, and the final 'villain' was to try to keep the love interest alive. And then the last few chapters were a bunch of really sweet fluff chapters that read more like extras?? I was quite confused by the changes in tone lol.

I liked the middle part the most because the biggest plot-twist that explained a lot of the mysteries was that the love interest was already dead and the protagonist couldn't let go. I felt for the protagonist. And I also love that the panguan often left a little something from the departed ghosts for the loved ones - a flower, a branch... As a farewell ritual, this is very poignant. <<less
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periperi rated it
September 23, 2021
Status: Completed
5 stars

Has one of the best CP with plot I've read this year (with ANGST, oh the knifes). The translator wasn't kidding when they said the characters really will do anything for each other. When each thing was slowly revealed, it will really stab you in the heart.

This is a case based story in the beginning but everything is kind of linked except the second arc (but a bit is still linked) that very quickly goes to the big story in the 4th arc and to the grand ending where... more>> many things happened and I'm just really glad there's a big HEA because for a hot second I was sure there wasn't.

Because my goodness it didn't look like they were going to make it because of all the angst.


But apart from how much the main CP loves each other (from their actions), what really made the story great was the side characters and cast. From naive XQ to rebellious ZX, even the Zhang siblings were good cast. I actually thought ZX was an annoying bear child at the beginning but he quickly grew on me later on. And there were many plot twists later on as well. The flash backs with MC and ML's fellow shixiongs/tudi were nice as well (though I wished there was more).

Lastly, a shoutout to the audio drama! The link can be found on the translator page (and also the translation is superb, thank you!) and it is great. The VA is exceptionally good and ML's voice is just soo doting (mei da mei xiao) >.< the songs are great as well. So far it covers the first 3 arcs (and yes, beware of major spoilers in the trailer).

Overall, with a theme on grief and letting go, there's also a family found in here but going to admit it's a slight struggle to read in chinese so kudos to the translator! <<less
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chantingatnight rated it
November 4, 2022
Status: c78
I've read bunch of danmei but if I'm being honest, I never cry in every chapter like I do with panguan. I read this not knowing anything about the novel but I'm so satisfied. It was scary and funny at first but the tears always come out by the end of the chapter. I really love how the author is so good at describing the melancholy, the longing that I can even feel it in reality. This is one of the book that I truly enjoy
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June 11, 2022
Status: c66
this is great. the romance, the found family feels, the humour, the plot... everything is present. not only the main characters, but even the secondary ones are well-developed, interesting and likeable. looking forward to the continuation of translation!
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rimirinrin rated it
February 15, 2022
Status: Completed
Completed reading the raws. It's satisfying for me.

I like how touching each arc is. I cried just 12 chapters in. I also enjoyed the length of the novel, not too long and draggy. Chen Bu Dao is the most gentle gong I've seen and it's a two way falling in love which is just heart warming. There's a lot of knives in between but you also get your sweetness in between. I really recommend this novel if you like cultivation mixed with modern world in supernatural setting!
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waiting for it to rain
waiting for it to rain rated it
October 22, 2021
Status: --
THIS NOVEL !! Its so so so so good, as expected of mu su li's novel! Im enjoying it a lot so far, the mix of humour and horror is really well done.
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This person is dying
This person is dying
February 3, 2022
Status: c52
The main character Wen Shi is a bit too quiet for me to understand. He also doesn't have much opinion in his head. I sympathize more with the side characters. But his personality is consistent with his past. In fact he is quite a tragedic character. I hope Chen Budao, his teacher, can evoke more feeling from him in the future.

I really like Chen Budao. I also don't understand him much, but he's a bit like an ever magnanimous immortal, so it's feel normal to not understand him.

Anyway, I still... more>> feel attached to the story. It's really enjoyable. The plot is amazing and the writing is good as expected of Mu Su Li.

5 stars from me. <<less
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