Hi friends! I’m here today to share my review on a book that has pleasantly surprised me. It’s kind of like anime, but in book form. I had a great time reading it, and I can’t wait to share my full thoughts!
Thank you, so, so much HarperTeen for providing me with an e-ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.
But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.
Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.
With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.
confession: i haven’t read a lot of manga or anime.
Yes yes yes, it’s a problem that must be remedied as soon as possible. However, even with my limited exposure to the world of Japanese entertainment, I still picked up on a ton of anime-ish vibes! There was something in the way action scenes were described, and the wit of the banter, that was very clearly inspired by source material.
This was clearly so well-researched and I appreciated that! I’m no expert on Japanese culture* and so I was so, so happy to be immersed totally into a book where even basic actions like walking into a house are different from America. Valynne E. Maetani is Japanese-American, and there’s an author note at the beginning explaining just how thoroughly this book was researched. Everything from the honorifics used to, well, the Kpop girl group Twice being mentioned really hammered in the fact this was Japan, not America. Too often, books that are supposed to take place in other countries just feel like America but this wasn’t the case here.
*expert is an exaggeration. it’s more like a “has eaten ramen and watched death note” level.
Atmosphere! The atmosphere was more subtle, but there was a feeling of cold horror pervading the scenes when demons arrived. It was in the creaky walls and bustling cities and otherworldly places. I could picture everywhere the characters went, and everything they did with ease. The action scenes were amazing and had a sense of exaggerated drama that anime often has.
“I suppose even death looks beautiful, sometimes. But its beauty is a lie.
Mythology! The entire book is steeped in mythology. It was so cool seeing casual references to creatures such as yokai and shinigami, and seeing it play such a rich part in the story. There was also a glossary in the back which really helped me and my short memory.
Kira is amazing. Her growth and character development were done spectacularly. Her passion and love for her grandfather, the shrine and their family legacy were so admirable. I also adored the shinigami* and their hilarious array of personalities!
*and kiku. i was strangely fond of kiku.
Sometimes I felt that the plot was too predictable and easy? I was surprised at a little bit of it, but not as much as I had hoped for. I was too enamored by the newness of the Japanese folklore to care a ton, but others might take issue with that.
And the romance! Was! Too! Predictable! It was so dang easy. I’m fond of enemies-to-lovers or friends-to-lovers that goes slow, with proper amounts of angst. That wasn’t this book had. I understand that the romance wasn’t meant to be all dark, but it did take away my reading pleasure a little bit.
So that’s it! I’d recommend this for anime fans who are looking for a good story with drama, or people who are really interested in reading a book very much centering around Japanese culture and mythology. Tell me: have you heard of this? Is it on your TBR?
Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may not appear in the final product.