Perhaps the thing that stuck with me the most after reading Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer is that I would like an arashitora – a half eagle, half tiger- of my very own. In all seriousness though, Stormdancer is a powerful read about rising up against oppression set against the backdrop of a fictional land called Shima that may as well be feudal steampunk Japan. As a patient reader, I reveled in the days spent reading Kristoff’s richly detailed writing.
Yukiko, a sixteen year old girl is the daughter of Masaru also know as Black Fox, a legendary hunter. Masaru is ordered by the Shogun to find him an arashitora so the Shogun can be like the stormdancers of old and win the war against the Gaijin, or white people. Unfortunately, when Masaru, Yukiko and the crew are hunting for the last arashitora in Shima, they are struck by disaster. What unfolds is a plot rife with intrigue, where Yukijo is unsure of who she can trust.
Kristoff’s world is not one I would want to visit or hang around. In Shima, the skies are red and inhabitants must wear a breathing apparatus to filter out the pollution. A plant called lotus has choked out legitimate edible plants, to the point where all the animals have left Shima because they have no food to eat. Yet, residents say the lotus must bloom as it fuels the Shogun’s empire, is used for a narcotic and makes the machinery work.
Rule is strict under Shogun Yoritomo. Along with the Shogun, the Guild of artificers who are people in machine suits who make all of the technology have a lot of power as well. Taxes are high. Life as a peasant is incredibly harsh, where people are pretty much worked to death and surrounded by food they cannot eat. The Shogun is considered to be mad and kills people over the smallest perceived slight. The reader can easily see that Shima is ripe for a revolution.
Enter Yukiko. When we first meet her, she’s saving her dad from a bar fight and hopeful that Masaru will just get his life together. She’s not exactly a fountain of patience or understand by any means. Yet, despite her faults, Yukiko is headstrong and a fighter. She is someone who stands her ground morally, therefore a character that I found to be worthy of admiration.
I feel the writing style absolutely suits Stormdancer’s story. Kristoff writes in third person which provides a complete picture of what’s going on with the lotus war. It allows for exploration of what is happening with characters beyond Yukiko. Kristoff’s writing is very descriptive with a lot of adjectives. It is very easy to picture the world created by the author. Stormdancer is not the sort of book you should expect to tear through, but the type of book one savors and takes time with. If you are an impatient reader, straight up you will not like this book.
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff is sure to appeal to fans of Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn because of the similar settings. Fans of adult epic fantasy will enjoy this book as well. Although Stormdancer features a teenage protagonist, there are adult themes and a complex story line regarding the revolution. If you like sophisticated storytelling, tough as nails main characters, revolutions and Eastern based fantasy, Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff is worth a few days of your reading time.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon vine.
Other reviews of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff:
Cuddlebuggery – “Stormdancer is a fantasy nerdgasm”
Finding Bliss In Books – “an original and stunningly written debut”
Ivy Book Bindings -“a true literary wonder”