A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire. (From Goodreads).
Best Bits: Kristoff has a gift for prose. The description was decadent...it was basically the book equivalent of chocolate cake. This is one of those books that I had to go through slowly, because I wanted to savor it. Skyships, and thunder tigers, and atmos-suits. Oh, my. Stormdancer is certainly unique, and even within the steampunk genre this felt fresh. I haven't read a large number of books that fall into this category, but when I do they seem to always contain the same few elements to classify it as such. Not here. One major reason that I enjoyed this book so much was Yukiko. I always talk about strong characters, and Yukiko is forced to be. She's suffered major losses in her life, and deals with the loss that comes with someone who is both living and addicted to a substance. How can you not root for her to come into her own? This book is also one that comes with a message. Kristoff paints a portrait about a society that is addicted to the lotus, and it's destroying them. It has a variety of uses, and the dependance on it is ruining the environment, and the lives of all citizens. One can definitely draw parallels to our society and dependance on things like oil. I'm grateful for a chance to read a fantastic book while making connections to our society.
Nit Picks: While this book is beautifully written, there are quite a few words that I was unfamiliar with. There is a glossary in the back, which will certainly help in hardcover/paperback, but I was reading this on Adobe Digital Editions, so I couldn't go back and forth. Luckily, I have a general understanding of some of the terms, but I have a feeling that those who snag an e-book copy are going to have the same issue. I feel like full disclosure is important here. I love a book that has tons of description, but I know that there are a number of people who don't. A good chunk of the beginning of the book is exposition. It contains descriptions of the characters, clothing, weapons, and setting. Those that are looking for an insta-action read are going to have to remember that this book builds slowly.
By Jay Kristoff
Published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of Macmillan)
E-Arc for review