Ling has white scales with brilliant orange patches, like a koi fish which cover her tail and torso. She has long black hair, almond-shaped eyes and high cheekbones.
In Deep Blue, when she first meets Serafina and Neela, she wears a red jacket and her hair is coiled into two knots on top her head. She carries an embroidered silk bag silk bag over one shoulder and a sword in a scabbard is slung over her back. Her disguise consists of a torn black cape, long turitella-shape earrings, a necklace made from old skeleton keys and her sword on her back, and, she dyes streaks of her hair purple and wears it in braids. When she breaks her wrist, she uses an old scarf as a cast.
In Dark Tide, she wears a prison uniform consisting of a baggy grey tunic but when she escapes she puts on fresh clothes.
Ling first meets Serafina and Neela get stuck in the mirror realm and get out near a river as they swim nearer to the river and she tells them they need better disguises. She helps them improve their clothing and later, when Serafina goes shoaling, she is caught in a fisherman's net, which is also where she breaks her wrist. Serafina and Neela later help her out.
They travel together to the river, where they meet Astrid, Becca, Ava, and Baba Vrăja, the leader of the river witches, also known as the Iele. Ling practices her magic and later takes place in the bloodbind. When the caves are stormed by death riders, she escapes with the others into the mirror.
Ling appears in Rogue Wave, though she and Serafina do meet and explore a temple in Atlantis together. Near the end of the book, while travelling back home in East Matali, she is surrounded by death riders and hauled onto a trawler belonging to the ruthless terragogg Mfeme, who ties her to a chair and interrogates her on the location of the talismans, something Ling is clueless about. After growing frustrated with her, Mfeme hits her, leaving her with a bruised face and split lip. Then, Mfeme takes off his sunglasses, revealing eyes that are "black, empty voids". He spells out his name Rafe Iaro Mfeme with Ling's letter tiles, before re-scrambling them to reveal that his name is an anagram for 'I am Orfeo fear me', confirming that he is Orfeo.
- “Ling's time aboard the ship had taken its toll. Her left eye bas badly bruised. Her hair was matted. The cast on her arm was dirty, and the once-bright patches on her ivory tail were dull.”
- ―Chapter 9, Dark Tide
After Mfeme reveals his true identity, Ling realizes that the black pearl he wears on a chainis the talisman given to him by Morsa, the death goddess, and it has been keeping him alive for the last four thousand years. She tries to cast a convoca to warn the others, but Orfeo clamps an iron collar-which repels magic-around her neck. He states that Vallerio and his henchmen have found Merrow's diamond and says that Sycorax's talisman is in the Abyss and that's where the trawler is headed. She is then hauled off the chair by Orfeo's thugs and thrown into the trawler's hold.
Stuck in the murky hold of the Bedrieër with three hundred other mer, Ling tries to escape multiple times, but all she ever gets is a slap for her trouble. After three weeks, the Bedrieër stops Mer are forced into cages which are dropped through a hatch in the chamber underneath the ships' hull, where they plummet to the ocean floor. While trying to get out of the Bedrieer, Ling pushes a merman in front of her who bumps into another mer, causing a huge fight and swims away while the death riders are distracted, but is caught and slapped before being forced into a cage, which plummets to the ocean floor.
She is imprisoned at a labour camp, nicknamed "Happy Hills" by the prisoners, where food is scarce, cruelty is often and mer are forced to search in the Abyss for Sycorax's white puzzle ball and often die from Depth Sickness while doing so. She makes friends with her bunkmate Tung-Mei and learns to move fast for Selection, where prisoners are chosen to dive into the Abyss and search for Sycorax's talisman and, luckily, her broken wrist stops her from being chosen. One day, at her job of counting and loading arrows and spears into crates, a mermaid collapses and Ling is ordered to take her to the infirmary. She obeys and there, she is overjoyed to see her father, who was presumed dead, Shan Lu Chi.
He explains that while exploring the Abyss, he found Sycorax's puzzle ball and when the death riders saw it, he threw it back in. They beat him up and then, mistaking the title of doctor on his ID for being a medical doctor, let him work in the infirmary. Ling then helps him put white pearls in the mouths of dead prisoners and carry their bodies to the death cart. Shan then organises a plan for Ling to pretend to fall victim of the fictitious disease of Purple Fever and die and escape on the death cart. Ling agrees and pretends to cough and stop breathing while doing her work and is loaded onto the death cart where she is surrounded by dead bodies. The death riders search the death cart with sea wasps (deadly jellyfish) and Ling is struck in the tail. She struggles out of the cart and loses consciousness, only twenty yards from the camp.
She wakes up early the next morning only to be covered by a giant manta ray, who reveals that her father had asked her to make sure Ling got away safely and that she has been covering Ling all night. With Ling unable to move her tail, the ray carries Ling far away from the camp and Ling thanks her. After three days, Ling sets out for the Abyss and searches for hours for the talisman, developing Depth Sickness in the progress. She becomes hysterical and starts to hallucinate, but keeps on searching. She is left in complete darkness but manages to find the talisman and a fangtooth carries her out of the Abyss as an angelfish lights the way. She heads home to Qīngshuĭ and packs a backpack and explains to her mother what is happening and that her father is alive. Zhu speaks for the first since Shan disappeared and Ling depearts.She journeys to the Kargford where Serafina, Neela, Becca and Astrid are located and reveals the truth about Orfeo. They then perform a bloodbind together, this time including Astrid.
- "Ling" is a Chinese name meaning "spirit", "soul", "bell" or "chime."
- Coralberry is her favourite flavour of Bubble Tea.