by Zoe Marriott
Plot Summary:When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.
The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.
The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.
Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.
With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.
Review:I loved Shadows on the Moon - a fantasy retelling of Cinderella by Zoe Marriott, so I was really looking forward to getting into this urban fantasy tale with Japanese mythology. I didn't enjoy this book as much as Shadows on the Moon but this was still a great read!
This book has excellent world-building - I love the interweaving of Japanese culture with modern London and the parallel world with the Kitsune. It's a bit dark and bloody, but it captured both cultures so well I think. And the mystery behind the blade - the katana - is so intriguing as well. There's still more of the blade's story to reveal, but I liked that the katana has it's own agenda that is very mysterious. I think that sets up the main conflict of the book very well - I really want to know more.
I was very disappointed by the romance - there's an instalove aspect of it that does have a good reason, but the level of devotion so soon was really too much at times and just not that believable to me. I wish Mio was more level-headed in this aspect even if the object of her affection is a very nice and supportive romance lead. The friendship between Mio and Jack made up for this though, because I loved their banter and camaraderie! They were so fun together and I was so happy that Mio didn't forget about Jack once the strange things started happening to her. There's not enough great friendships in the YA books I read and I really love it when I come across one that feels believable and gives the main character a great person to bounce ideas off of.
There are many interesting elements to this book - it felt like a whirlwind of a story often with all the things that were after Mio and the katana and I think this is a great start to the series. The ending was particularly exciting - well there was one part that didn't feel believable, but I really have high hopes for this series!