This novel is incredibly hard for me to review without giving away spoilers, but I will do my best.
Set in steampunk Japan, Stormdancer follows Yukiko on her journey with her father to capture an Arashitora, an legendary eagle/tiger hybrid that is long believed to be extinct, for their insane Shogun. Why set out on this impossible journey? It’s either achieve the impossible or be put to death because the Shogun gets what he wants. Yukiko thinks this whole endeavor is nuts, but dutifully goes along with her father and is shocked when they actually find the creature. Then their world spins out into chaos as the sky-ship catches fire sending them all plummeting to their doom.
I was truly impressed with the writing style. Sometimes it felt like they went into a too much detail on inconsequential things, but it was so beautifully described that I almost didn’t care. This steampunk world fueled by black lotus was fascinating and reminded me just a little bit of Stardust by Neil Gaiman because it weaves fantasy elements into the story so well. Yukiko is an outstanding heroine who I fell instantly in love with. In YA, you get to read a ton of male characters written by a woman, but it’s rare to read through the perspective of a female character written by a man, so I was super excited about that. I must say, he did a great job with it. My favorite character, though, would have to be Buruu. The further into the story you get, the more his character develops and the more in love I feel with this thunder tiger.
This really was a thrill ride of with everything going wrong at the worst possible moment and I loved seeing how Yukiko worked her way out of all the hard situations. It gets 4 stars instead of 5 because of all the deaths. Yes, I know they are starting a war and that people will die, but I did not enjoy seeing half of my favorite characters get butchered. I was hoping for a happy ending, dammit. It was a hopeful ending, but I definitely wouldn’t call it happy. I greatly look forward to the next novel in this series and more of Yukiko & Buruu’s story.
****Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****