Bring on the morally grey characters and complicated endings, it’s fall! Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for my proof of The Keeper of Night! This is a YA fantasy with Japanese mythology, and I still enjoyed it quite a bit as an adult
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Keeper of Night
- Series: The Keeper of Night #1
- Author: Kylie Lee Baker
- Publisher & Release: Inkyard Press, 10/12/21
- Length: 400 pgs
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ all the stars for this dark fantasy
Here is the book blurb:
A girl of two worlds, accepted by none… A half Reaper, half Shinigami soul collector seeks her destiny in this haunting and compulsively readable dark fantasy duology set in 1890s Japan.
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death…only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
I liked the premise here, a young British Reaper is also half Japanese Shinigami, and she is bullied by the other Reapers. They don’t treat her much better in Japan and she just goes into this totally selfish spiral of darkness after being forced out of London. Her brother, Neven, would have followed her to the ends of the world and I was surprised by Ren’s lack of empathy towards him, how brutal!
I guess that’s what makes a good morally gray character, their self serving attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to reach their goals.
It was cool to get a look at Japanese mythology and legends too, especially the underworld. Baker does a great job with descriptive language, world building, and setting. I felt like I was there, seeing the sights and smells, being crushed by darkness, wondering what would come next. A very immersive read.
The magic system was pretty low key, the Reapers had a very cool time turning ability and a lot of the Japanese folklore involved abilities as well. It was well described and once again I liked the concept of magic/legends/beings only being susceptible to the fatal influences of their own culture.
This is a great October read. I’m shocked that it’s a debut. Minus a few wordy forays into similes and purple prose that I thought hurt the flow – it was beautifully descriptive enough without going over the top those few times! I thought overall it was a mature enough novel to enjoy as an adult.
There was some humor and good dialogue too, as well as a darker romance, but my favorite part was definitely the legends and stories.
Overall? This is an interesting, fast paced novel with good themes, morally questionable main characters, lovely language, and fresh mythology. You might cry though! A big ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ from me as an adult or for YA