A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
AH’s Review – 5 Skulls – A
Stormdancer is one of those books that took a while for the story to unfold. At first, I was a little frustrated by the endless vocabulary in Japanese. I realize that there was a glossary available at the end of the book however an e-ARC does have some limitations. Flipping back and forth just wasn’t an option. At times, I felt like abandoning the book. So why did I give it 5 skulls? The answer is simple: Buruu the Thunder Tiger.
From the moment of Buruu’s appearance in the story, I was hooked. I loved the parts that were told from Buruu’s point of view. I could not put the book down. I realize that reading about 100 pages is a lot when you are not invested in a story, but for me, it was worth it. What made Buruu so interesting? Essentially, he was a mythical creature, a griffin, part tiger, part eagle. His evolution from a primal, sentient, and deadly creature into an articulate and logical protector intrigued me.
I liked Yukiko’s character. Yukiko was not your ordinary 16 year old girl. She was fierce, a fighter, bright and intelligent. Yukiko has an affinity for animals and she is able to hear their thoughts and communicate with them. She did have a teenage style crush on a certain green-eyed samurai which made her just a little more real for me. A little awkward thinking about your honey when you have a mind meld with a thunder tiger.
The world fascinated me. Steampunk, Japanese style. Just awesome. Airships, brass masks to protect from the sun and poor air quality, special flying suits, and more. Some of the special suits were connected intravenously to the wearer providing protection from the elements as well as nutrition.
This is a world ravaged by pollution. The air is not breathable. The rain is black. Black Lung is killing the population. The only crop grown is the Lotus and it provides food, fuel, and even drugs for the population. The lotus has killed off all the other crops as well as most of the animals. Meanwhile, the lotus crop has another sinister cost. Blood is required to fertilize the crop. The blood must come from somewhere and the 20 year long war with the gaijin provides prisoners of war for the lotus crop.
Despite its slow start, Stormdancer entertained me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I am looking forward to reading more books by this author in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a review copy of this book.
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