Red Winter - Book Review
(Red Winter Trilogy Book #1)
Publisher: Dark Owl Fantasy
In a few short months, Emi’s mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal Goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body and soul to unite with the goddess — and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.
Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the Goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with a cunning she can't match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command — whether she wants him or not.
On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate — but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the Gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.
This book had everything that I look for in a good story. A great heroine, a hunky guy, forbidden romance, magic... and lots and lots of sarcasm. Set in Japan, it also read just like a manga, and I love, love, loved it!
Emi is more than a modern day priestess. She is the soon-to-be vessel of the great Wind Goddess, and therefore must remain pure in body, spirit and mind. But when she uncovers a terrible secret, everything Emi knows about Gods and Demons is thrown into question. For the first time in her life, she wants to run from her fate, only to learn her future cannot be altered.
However after Emi unwittingly saves a fox demon from a gruesome end, she inadvertently gains a servant — one who refuses to leave until his debt to her is repaid. But there is more to this fox demon than meets the eye, and his trickery and deceit aside, he may be Emi’s only chance at survival … but first she must learn to set aside her prejudices, and admit that demons aren't quite as bad as they seem…
This book made me squee with excitement/happiness so many times. But first and foremost, I have to mention that the artwork within the pages is exquisite and really captures the characters. Although there are only about ten of them, the images created matched exactly what was in my head.
However, I did feel this story got off to a slow start, beginning with lots of backstory and world building. While interesting, about 25% in I began to wish for something more dramatic to happen, and finally, it did. From that point onward, I literally could not put this book down.
That was around the point when the demons (Yokai) were introduced, and while they weren’t the most likeable characters at first, there literal way of speaking and dry humour was very entertaining. I also liked how they viewed everything, including the battle scenes as a sort of game - and remained witty even against terrible odds.
I also enjoyed Emi’s character. She is very sheltered and naive, innocent to the world around her, but I liked how she quickly grew a spine and challenged herself to be braver and try more things. I particularly liked how her good, priestess-trained self warred against the normal, teenaged girl within her, especially when it came to controlling her hormones.
The only thing I think readers would struggle with is the amount of Japanese words used in the prose. I actually studied Japanese for a few years in university so the words were familiar, but I think if I had to keep flipping to the glossary at the end I may have lost some patience with the story.
Although the author does do a fair of job of describing everything, I still think the Japanese could have been toned down a little. However I enjoyed the descriptions of the temple customs, and the settings themselves were full of atmosphere.
In terms of story… everything is fast paced and flows well. The world and its magic are very believable, although occasionally I thought Emi’s choices weren't always the best. However I throughly enjoyed this book (although since I love all things Japanese I may be a little biased) and isn't this cover just gorgeous?
A definite read for anyone who enjoyed Zoe Marriotts “Name of the Blade” Trilogy, or Amanda Sun’s “Ink” series - Red Winter is a 5 Stars Read! I can’t wait to have the sequel in my hands. Please go read it... like, right now.
Want more Manga like fantasy? THE NIGHT ISTELF and INK are fantastic reads full of Japanese culture!