Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff 4/5
Arashitoras are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun’s crimes, both against her country and her family.
Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless arashitora do against the might of an empire?
I went into this book with an open mind. I had read 5*, glowing reviews, and 1*/2* slating ones. Most of the 1*/ 2* reviews are based on what the readers felt was a lack of thorough research into the Japanese culture, or stereotyping of the same. I haven’t much knowledge on Japanese culture, and decided to read this book knowing it is a fantasy novel, and not actually in set Japan, but Shima, a fictional location.
Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Jay Kristoff with characters to love. Yukiko and Buruu’s relationship was well crafted and had me giggling at times. The sub-characters were all perfectly flawed, and added to the narrative.
I found the beginning a little hard going, but one advantage of lots of description and slow, world-building is an indepth, immersive read. Seriously, it is worth ploughing on. Steam-punk twinned with Japanese elements was an interesting mix, and the two worked well together to create a vivid world.
The ending was worth the journey: surprises, shocks, and oh, my poor heart. I have book two, Kinslayer, to read, and I doubt it will be long before I have to return to Yukiko’s world. The title makes me a little worried, though. Kinslayer… Kin-slayer…. I hope I’m thinking on it too much.
The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties
All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman
K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review