Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.
That’s pretty much the whole vibe of this one. Dark, twisted, and oh so murderous. And while that’s not generally my jam, this grim YA fantasy was pretty good. I cringed a lot and the mental pictures painted are a bit horror movie style, and that’s its charm!
I really enjoyed the main character Ren. Struggling with her identity as biracial and not feeling like she fits in anywhere, she goes to Japan in hopes of finding a new home there. Upon arriving with her brother are when things start to turn, ahem, deadly. She’s very much morally grey and you’ll want to follow her down to the dark side.
The lore behind all of the terrifying monsters had me keeping the lights on. The writing was vivid, and I felt myself on the journey with Ren. I adored her brother Neven and the opposite views he created. He was the necessary dichotomy to a wicked story.
Plot wise, it did drag sometimes and it took me awhile to understand all of the different things Ren was trying to accomplish and why. But I loved her journey and her ability to express and acknowledge her emotions and standing in her feelings while she worked through what life had handed her.
The ending was wild. Did not see the majority of it coming and am so dang curious how the second book rectifies it all. There is a dash of something akin to a romance, but I don’t want to say more because it would definitely be spoiler-y. It was rich in explorations of family, identity and place to be who Ren wanted to be and I can’t wait to follow her journey further.
Overall audience notes:
- YA Fantasy
- Language: a little
- Romance: intense kisses/make-outs
- Trigger/Content Warnings: ableism, racism, many blood & gore depictions, mutilation of bodies (dismemberment, etc.), death of a parent, multiple murders, exile, bullying
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.