Welcome to the Shima Isles where the Shogun and the ever powerful Lotus Guild have over seen the rise of machines and an industrial revolution around the islands. These new machines are powered by the toxic Lotus flower, which destroys the soil and land around it making food and other resources more scarce. Any uprising or revolt is met with instant death and the Lotus Guild will declare people as unpure and the Shogun cares nothing for his people, but only for his dominion and legacy. This is the world created by Jay Kristoff in his debut novel. Stormdancer is a gritty, dark tale of revenge and friendship. Lets dive into this gem of a debut novel by Jay Kristoff.
The Shima Isles is the home of the four clans of: Tiger, Fox, Dragon, and Phoenix. The isles are riddled with poverty and crimes after the is of the machines turning local farmers and craftsmen into local beggars. The novel is based heavily on imperial Japan and the Shogun mixed with steampunk and fantastical creatures. Stormdancer is told through the eyes of Yukiko, a strong young women eager to live up to her fathers reputation as a great warrior. Yukiko and her father Masaru are sent by the Shogun to a mythical Arashitoras, they fear that their lives are over because these creatures are supposed to be extinct.
The mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected. Yukiko eventually comes into contact with a young man named Kin. He knows the secrets of the Lotus Guild and the crimes committed by the Shogun over the decades. Yukiko will stop at nothing to return to the capital and seek her revenge.
Jay Kristoff has laid the ground work for something truly unique to the fantasy genre. The dark and gritty nature of the story combined with Japanese culture and religion is something I always wanted to learn more about and I ate it up like a holiday ham! Readers who enjoy Japanese manga’s, strong female characters, animal companions will absolutely enjoy Stormdancer. Oh, in terms of twist and shocking moment, Jay Kristoff could give George R.R Martin a run for his money because they entire Lotus War trilogy has several jaw dropping moments that I threw my book across the room and reread the chapter again. Jay Kristoff has natural gift for making the scenes and imagery come to life and I look forward to reading all of his works in the future. Congratulations on you debut novel Jay Kristoff, bring on the pain.