Japanese-inspired Steampunk Dystopian: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Monday, September 03, 2012

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
by Jay Kristoff
Genre: Science Fiction > Steampunk
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: September 1st 2012
Pages: 451 (paperback)
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase this book | GoodReads

Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.

But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it.

Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
Kristoff weaved a world so deadly and elegant, it took my breath away. The story takes place in Shima, damaged and tainted by chi fumes from the Lotus Guild. The people of Shima are ruled by the ruthless Shogun,  Yoritomo-no-miya who sends the Black Fox Matsuru and his daughter Yukiko on a quest to look for an extinct beast- a thunder tiger called an Arashitora.

Yukiko is a kick-ass heroine who is not difficult to like. Yukiko's name comes from Japanese 幸 (yuki) "happiness" or 雪 (yuki) "snow" combined with 子 (ko) "child".  Alternatively, it can come from 由 (yu) "reason" with 喜 (ki) "joy" or 貴 (ki) "valuable" combined with 子 (ko) "child". There is very little joy in Yukiko's life, though. Losing her mother and brother at an early age, Yukiko had to learn how to fend for herself and for her father.

Skilled in the art of the tantō, Yukiko is beautiful but dangerous. She is serious when necessary, but she can also be very stubborn and down to earth. She has been through a lot of pain and loss, but she still values life and refuses to kill another human being. I loved watching her grow from being a regular hunter crushing on a green-eyed boy, into a fierce warrior with unmeasurable strength and courage to fight for what is right.

The other characters introduced in the book were just as interesting, if not more. Each and every one of them had a story and I had the chance to get to know all of them. They all had that certain kind of depth that would touch you and make you want to hear more about them. Some are fragile, some are strong, but all of them share the same dream: happiness. The character development in Stormdancer is incredibly up to par and will definitely take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride.

Stormdancer is the perfect mix of steampunk and japanese mythology. Filled with Oni and Kami, sky-ships and breathers made of anachronistic technology, the book is perfect for otakus with a love for futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them.

The thing that made me fall in love with this book is the writing. It flowed so beautifully and made me feel like I was a part of Yukiko's journey. The action scenes were written in a lethal yet graceful, and made me visualize every movement in my head. I was so captured by the book that I forgot that I was reading the words. All I could see were the descriptions and conversations that began to play out like a movie in my head.

Packed with pain, loss, jealousy, lust, rebellion, and hope, Stormdancer will turn you into an emotional mess. Readers of all ages will enjoy this combination of humor and unpredictably dark seriousness.The first installment of an exciting new series, Stormdancer is sure to electrify the growing numbers of Steampunk fans as well as lovers of classic fantasy.


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  1. Awesome review, Selkie! Really glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

  2. Hi!

    I've just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award!

    Go to: http://thebookloversreport.blogspot.com/2012/09/one-lovely-blog-award.html for more details on it. :)

    -Cierra @ The Book Lover's Report

  3. Hey, I have (also, apparently) nominated you for a blogger award.
    I posted details here... http://theonewithrachelsbook.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/nominated-for-one-lovely-blog-award.html


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