Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
Author:  Jay Kristoff
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, 313 pages
Publication Date:  September 18, 2012

From Goodreads:
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun's crimes, both against her country and her family.

Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

Stormdancer was a phenomenal read, a mix of dystopian with Japanese steampunk.  I admit that it started off slow because of the Japanese terminology and the detailed world-building.  Just stick with it and it gets so good.  Jay Kristoff has created an imaginative world where the sky is red and filled with smoke and people wear goggles and breathers.  Where there are sky-ships.  Where there's a mad Shogun in charge and the Guild burn people who are Impure.  Where Artificers wear metal skin.  Loved the mix of steampunk with mythology, it's unlike anything I've read.

I loved Yukiko, a wise beyond her years sixteen year old.  She lost her brother when she was young, her mother abandoned her, and her father is a drunk, a gambler, and addicted to the drug Lotus.  Yukiko's such a strong character, but she's also just a teenager and you feel her pain when she remembers her brother and fights with her father.  She wants him to take care of her but she's had to take care of him.  Such a complex father/daughter relationship, it was realistically depicted. 

And of course there's Buruu, the thunder tiger.  He's proud, funny, sarcastic, and loyal.  So loyal.  What he does for Yukiko, the sacrifices he makes…loved him!

There are amazing secondary characters as well, such as Kin, who just wants to feel the wind and rain on his skin.  Aisha, the sister of the Shogun.  Michi, her servant.  Akihito, Kasumi…so many wonderful characters.  

Although there's a romance between Yukiko and a guy and there's a certain sweetness to it, it happened too fast and I never felt like I got to know him.  I wish I had been more invested in the relationship.

The plot is unpredictable and I was blindsided with the betrayal.  It was awesome, I have to say.  I mean, horrible and sad, but awesome, if that makes sense.  If you haven't read this series yet, READ IT. 

Posted by:  Pam


  1. I have been holding my breath while you read through these books and I am so relieved/ecstatic that you ended up loving them. This is probably a top ten favorite series of mine and the only fault I can find is that confusing/slow start. Otherwise, it is pure masochistic perfection!

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