I was gripped from the start and found this story to be a very different take on what is actually a kind of vampire fantasy, a genre I actually have little interest in, so to please me it had to go some!
I loved the high-octane opening scene – it introduced great tension at the very start.
I liked Hitomi herself, her great courage, her compassion shown by how she paid for the damaged horse, wanted to help others in need, even when they were a great danger to her and how this tendency proved her salvation in impossible situations. I loved how the author SHOWED the qualities of the characters instead of TELLING us about them.
I enjoyed the slow build-up of some kind of chemistry between the fearful and unlikely Val and Hitomi. I liked the way the magic was handled, showing it coming at a cost to the one who wields it and also the cunningly slow reveal of the level of the magical powers held by Hitomi. The scene with Val in the tower had a weirdness to it that was truly fascinating, the calling of the bird, the release of the soul from entrapment in the blood spell and the horror of Val himself.
I loved the turn of phrase in places, such as when Hitomi says of her mother, “Four years I’ve thought her dead, scrabbling to find my next meal and keep a roof over my head, while she has dressed in silk and wandered sunlit gardens.” Conveys so much grief, rejection and sorrow in so few words.
Compared to the more well-known vampire fantasies (and they are usually lesser in quality than this one,) there was a refreshing difference in tone that felt almost like a cultural difference and it was partly explained when I realized the author’s own cultural background may be very different from most others of this genre I have read. The book is better for that difference.
I loved how the book seemed to be adequately concluded for a “book one” of a series – it did not just stop and leave the reader hanging. It had its own sense of conclusion and this came to me mainly from the little carving that was given by Val to Hitomi at the end. I loved that touch and hoped for it from the first I heard of his carvings in the story. There are still plenty of reasons for me to want to read book two however.
I usually gripe about stories written in the present tense but somehow this one gets away with it.
I think this book will appeal to young adults and inspire them to want more.