Stormdancer Jay Kristoff Book Review

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.

Stormdancer Jay Kristoff Book Cover


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

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’m sometimes not a huge fan of steampunk but I keep hearing such great things about this one. Plus, I think it would appeal to my high fantasy nerd side. Great review! I think I’ll give it a try.

    • Lori, this one is great. And you know I sort of felt the same as you, but then I was like OH EM GEE I am reading plenty of books with steampunk elements and liking them. Perhaps I actually do like steampunk?!

  2. This is one I want rather a lot!

  3. This society sounds absolutely terrifying. The plant that’s choked off all the other plants, yet people don’t want to be rid of? Wow… I just can’t get that through my mind! But I think it adds a really incredible (and somewhat believable) element! This one is definitely going on my TBR pile!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  4. I think this one’s on my TBR list. I’ll make sure. Thanks for the review! You made me totally excited to read it! 😉

  5. Wow… I’ve seen this one around, but haven’t felt a big connection to reading it. No reason why, just haven’t. I’m all for lush worlds and your description of it is awesome! I can’t say I’ve ever really read steampunk… but I kind of love the idea behind it. I’ll definitely have to add this one to my TBR list!

  6. I am so, so, so excited to read this one. Japanese culture + steampunk/fantasy? I am SO READY to read this.

  7. YES. I love this review. Also, I hadn’t heard of Across the Nightingale Floor, so I’m going to be adding that to my tbr pronto.

    Oh, Jay Kristoff’s writing. It is dense and ornate and glorious.

  8. I’m looking forward to my copy arriving! This is one I don’t want to let linger on my TBR mountain… 🙂

  9. Beautiful review, April. I’m happy to hear that this was a book that you were able to enjoy while not feeling like you had to rush through it. It doesn’t sound like a world I’d want to actually visit but I’m looking forward to reading about Yukiko and I’ll try to take my time with this story.

  10. Stormdancer took awhile for me to get into but I enjoyed it. You’re right about savoring it! Fantastic review!

  11. Even though this was a book I completely lusted after, it still managed to surprise and thrill me even more than I expected. Definitely worth savoring–and tasting again!

  12. I’m so fascinated by the idea of this world! I love a good, absorbing book, and I’m so glad that this sounds like exactly that. Also, THAT SLEEVE TATTOO, yo. If I was a cooler person…no, I still probably wouldn’t get it. But it looks AWESOME.


  1. […] Marvels Good Books and Good Wine Book Nook Vegan YA […]

  2. […] “As a patient reader, I reveled in the days spent reading Kristoff’s richly detailed writing. … 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.” Good Books & Good Wine […]

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