Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2016
Dates Read: May 24 – June 27, 2016
Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel), is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?
Note: I received an ebook copy of this book from Stillpoint Digital Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Hooray for pretty covers that also hold good stories!
The beginning of the book may have been a little slow, but I didn’t find it all that bad. Throughout the book there was a lot of intrigue, many secrets to keep the reader on edge, and exciting events to follow Risuko through. Most chapters held important tidbits of information to help advance the plot, even though the reader might not realize it until much later, and when there was no plot advancement there was definitely character development. I will say that the second half was a bit better than the first half, but overall the plot was carried out very well.
The cast of characters was wide and varying; very few characters were exactly the same, and I saw a lot of development the further I read. I do wish there had been a bit more development when it came to Toumi and Risuko’s relationship, but I’m content with where the book ended off with them. My favourite characters were by far Mieko and Kee Sun – they were the only characters that I had gained an emotional connection for, I think.
As for the one lost star, there was just something about this book that kept me from getting too engrossed in it. Something was holding me at bay, something stopping me from experiencing it rather than just reading it. The storyline was good, the characters were great, but there’s a missing connection there that I just can’t place. It may very well be the fact that I really only cared about two of the side characters, when I feel like I should have gained an emotional connection to all of them, especially Risuko.
I can’t really comment on the accuracy of the Japanese history, seeing as I’m not Japanese, but from what I’ve seen it looks as though the author did his research. He even went so far as to include translations at the end of the book, which was neat. It was really cool to be dropped into the culture like that, to see the world in a different way from how I usually see it, especially with the elements, food, herbs, and pretty much everything from the chapters in Mochizuki.
The only other thing I feel the need to say is that this does read more like a Middle Grade novel rather than Young Adult. That didn’t bother me, but there may be some future readers who will go into this thinking it’s YA and be disappointed when it doesn’t read as such. Just thought I would let you know.
Overall: I liked it a lot, but there was just a little something missing that kept me from loving it.