Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
A steampunk, fantasy novel set in feudal Japan? Yes, please. However, “Stormdancer” is so much more than that. There are demons, griffins and a protagonist who can hear animals’ thoughts. It also has all the makings of a good dystopian novel: a tyrannical leader, religious zealots, haves and have nots and the seeds of rebellion. I particularly came to like the main character, Yukiko. Although there is a a love triangle that I did not feel was entirely necessary, Yukiko is a good example of a strong heroine who confronts demons both inwardly and outwardly. Mr. Kristoff’s writing has not-so-subtle environmentalist and political overtones but he makes his points without arrogance and without distracting from the storyline. His writing also contains very vivid imagery which helps convey the rich detail of his world and deepens the emotional impact of the story. If you are going to read only one Japanese steampunk novel, make sure it’s this one!