It can be a little hard going from young adult to adult steampunk fantasy, especially when you are used to the large print and snappy pacing of young adult books. Thankfully Jay Kristoff masterfully bridges the gap with his Lotus War series which honestly crosses over quite well.†Kinslayer, the sequel to†Stormdancer is a very adult sort of book. As a fan of YA, I found myself completely taken in by young Yukiko, the main character, and her uncanny relationship with the Arashitora named Buruu. I found†Kinslayer to be a very no holds barred sort of book and one that I can’t help but pump my fist and shout YEAH over, because that is what I do when I read something and love it. Also, it kind of makes me want to break stuff.
First of all, this sequel to†Stormdancer opens with a character refresher which is enormously helpful if it has been awhile since you’ve read the first book. It tells who the characters are and where we left off with them in book one. Then we get into a prologue narrated by Kin, the Guildsman who does not want to be a Guildsman anymore. Next, we learn that Yukiko is hanging out in a Kage encampment with Buruu and is experiencing all kinds of headaches and pain from being able to read the thoughts of others and animals. We learn that Michi, Aisha’s lady in waiting, is in jail and not having a happy go of it. We see Kin struggling to fit in with Kage, there are three boys who basically do not trust him and try to sabotage him at every turn. We meet this girl named Hana and her brother, characters who are living in Kigen and who will play an important role. And so, Kristoff’s†Kinslayer is a multilayered work with several different plotlines that takes on what will be a very bloody revolution.
Yukiko is still the same fierce character we met in book one. She is now known as the Stormdancer and also The One The Guild Fears Above All or whatever the term for it was. Regardless, in†Kinslayer, she is experiencing some trouble with her gift and so, on Buruu’s back she goes exploring. She finds scrolls of human skin. She finds herself in danger at multiple turns. There are other Arashitora. Yukiko experiences what it is like to be a prisoner of the Gaijin, who basically are Russian, I think. It’s a whole culture shock and such a neat look at other parts of Jay Kristoff’s reimagined steampunk world. Furthermore, the development of the relationship between Yukiko and Buruu basically gave me all of the emotional feelings, and no it’s not THAT SORT of relationship.
Kin undergoes some interesting development. As you may recall, he was a Guildsman but then was cut out of his suit and experiences having exposed flesh for the first time ever. He is with the Kage and working on developing these machines that will kill the Obi, which are basically demons who plague the Kage stronghold in the forest. One day he finds a false lifer in the forest, a false lifer is the female version of a guildsman. Her name is Ayane and she wants to rebel against the Guild. Of course no one trusts her, but naturally Kin is protective of her. She develops feelings for him while meanwhile Kin has an unrequited love for Yukiko. It’s all very complicated, to be sure.
As for Michi, she basically had my favorite storyline of the whole book. Michi seduces this high ranking guardsman named Ichizo. I mean, she goes into full on seduction mode. Yet, he still won’t let her out of her cell. Eventually, it seems as though they have feelings for each other. HOWEVER, the whole entire time, Michi has this heart filled with hate and rebellion and we also get to learn about her past and how she came to be one of Lady Aisha’s ladies in waiting. I thought it was intense, the lengths Michi will go to in order to save Lady Aisha from a marriage she does not want.
Rounding out the main story lines is that of Hana also known as No One. Hana works in Hiro’s palace as a chamber pot cleaner. She literally empties chamberpots. Anyways, she begins to interact with Michi and the two form a friendship. Meanwhile, at home Hana’s brother has come into some money through some sketchy means and it is about to come back onto him. Everyone overlooks Hana, and so she uses this to her advantage and joins the Kage using No One as her moniker. Hana has quite a few secrets of her own that were definitely eye opening as they unravelled. Let’s just say Yukiko is not the only person who is able to communicate with animals.
Kristoff’s books might not be the type that I can whip through in a day or even a single weekend, yet there’s good reason for that. His books are intricate and the sort that should be savored. I will admit, some parts had me dragging my feet, especially a few graphic torture scenes.†Kinslayer is a bloody sequel of a book, but it’s also brilliant and beautiful. If you like your revolutions bloodsoaked, you are so going to love the second book in the Lotus War series. I highly recommend reading Kristoff’s sophomore book.
Disclosure: Review Copy Provided Via Amazon Vine