Wow, this book you guys! Slow paced, calculating, intriguing and totally all consuming. I read the whole book in one day, I just could not stop!
Yes, I have studied Japanese (but am not completely fluent) so I did not need much help from the glossary in the book. And that felt really good! Sometimes I go back and forth between story and glossary in a book so much that I lose the nice feeling of being one with the book. So this was sooo relaxing for me.
But If you are unfamiliar with the language I would recommend reading the glossary before starting. There are a lot of words that can be confusing otherwise.
We follow the daughter of a prominent samurai Mariko as she begins her journey to the capital to meet her future husband, the son of the emperor’s favourite consort. She is attacked on the way when her entourage is travelling trough a forest known as the ”yōkai” forrest. She survives and will now try to infiltrate the clan who she believes attacked her to find out why and prove to her family that she is more than just a girl to be traded of as a priced horse for political gain.
Have I heard this before? Kinda, but I have not read this before. The setting, characters, pacing and writing makes this book simply wonderful! And I really like that the supernatural aspects of the story are not really in your face. They creep around like smoke, never quite explained and sometimes you get a hint of it. And if powers are used in battle, they are not apocalyptic.
-Mariko is a calculating and clever girl with a great thirst for knowledge. She’s also proud and always want to live honourably. This is not always possible in her new situation when lying is key to survival. But she’s always thinking and reassessing what she knows and think is true, which is why I like her.
-Kenshin, the damaged samurai. I call him that because I don’t think he knows who he truly is. He has only known how to live by rules, ether his fathers or by Bushidō. So he’s not really used to political games and not really good with snap decisions in though situations. And the poor guy suffers for it.
-Ranmaru, the enigma. Read a whole book with the guy, but I don’t feel I have a good feel of the guy. Sneaky Ranmaru, what are you up to?
-Ōkami, mr ”you say potato, I say potato”? Never trust a word he says. He’s hot then cold, angry then laughing.. He takes you on a bumpy road before you’ll know anything concrete about him. I really like this guy though!
Slow-burning, bumpy roads, lots of banter and fun! Don’t worry Mariko, I would also like to punch and kiss the guy at the same time. *wink*
The only reason this book is not a 5-star book is because I did not get a deep emotionally connection with the characters. And that is a personal thing you can never anticipate. but this is a STRONG 4,5! So just go and read it, I’m moving on to Smoke in the sun!