Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Release: September 18, 2012
Source: e-ARC

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever. 


The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.


Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. 

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire

Let me begin by saying that Stormdancer is not for everyone. And it's not for the faint of heart. Jay Kristoff holds nothing back. There is blood, there is gore, and there are tears. Lots of tears. My heart was shattered and torn when I finished the last page. I was left in a daze.

That, dear readers, is the sign of a fantastic book and a fantastic writer.

Stormancer is about a young girl, Yukiko. She and her father, the black fox "hunter", are charged with the task of finding and capturing a Thunder Tiger for the Shogun. The problem? Thunder Tigers are extinct. Everyone knows it is a fool's mission, but they risk the Shogun's wrath if they refuse.

So through the blood-stained sky, they travel in the air until they find the impossible: a Thunder Tiger. Beautiful, regal, and deadly. In a series of events, the capture goes awry, and this leaves Yukiko fighting for survival in the wilderness. With the beast. He is angry. Defiant.

But, interestingly enough, the beast and Yukiko share a unique bond. This is made possible because of Yukiko's ability to speak to creatures. Eventually, she names the beast Burru. My favorite aspect of Stormdancer is friendship that Burru and Yukiko share. They are both fiercely defiant and stubborn, but eventually come to an understanding.

Stormdancer is a story about friendship. It's about revolution. But ultimately, it's about honor and sacrifice. So, readers, beware and be prepared to have your heart ripped in two.

I will also say that many might find Kristoff's writing "burdensome". It is not written in typical YA fashion. Stormdancer is filled with descriptions and "info-dump" that  may be unappealing. I found in unappealing, too, but I trudged on and I am so happy that I did. Things pick up once Burru comes into the picture.

I also found the world building incredibly detailed and unique. There's the shogun, the Guild, the Lotus, and the Kage. I could explain each of these things in detail, but the world of Stormdancer is best experienced. Not explained.

So how can you get a copy of Stormdancer? Luckily for you, this book releases in the US tomorrow. And if you can't wait until then, I have listed some of my favorite quotes HERE: spoiler free.


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