Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
In this novel, set soon after the events of “Stormdancer,” our heroine, Yukiko, is traveling the county sowing the seeds of rebellion while the ruling elite scramble to find a leader who can keep the power structure from crumbling. There is a lot of stuff going on in this book. The many swirling stories can feel disjointed at times but I’m still enthralled by the world that Mr. Kristoff has created. It is rich and feels lived in. Set in an alternative, steampunk version of shogunate Japan, the worlds of mystical beasts and advanced mechanized warfare collide. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy to see which side prevails.
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!
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
Review: I liked this one. The steampunk elements don’t overwhelm the story but instead simply add a different flavor. The plot points ended up coming together in an interesting way and the characters were flawed but still amusing and charismatic. My only complaint was that I figured out the mystery a little sooner than a mystery dunce like me should have.
Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Total Reading Time: 4.5 hours
Review: The writing style reminded me a lot of old serials. It was a good choice for the steampunk setting because it gave the story an even more retro feel. In terms of the plot, it was okay. Some parts were more amusing than others. I can’t believe I’m saying this but this book might actually make a better movie than book. Maybe it’s that some of the descriptions of what should have been interesting machines and other steampunk tropes left something to be desired and so I wanted to be able to see them on-screen.