Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff was, in a word, brilliant. I devoured this book in just a few days, and what a wonderful few days those were!
Yukiko had learned from the time she was small to hide her gift; no one could know about it or a terrible fate would befall her. In a world where the Guild burns those they call “Impure,” and a parasitic crop on which their whole society is run on, called blood lotus, is ruining their lands, it is hard to imagine a worse situation. When the Shōgun demands that she and her father find a mythical creature believed to be long extinct, called an arashitora, they expect to come back empty-handed and dishonored. However, they somehow seem to find one and they capture it. However, their airship cannot withstand its might, so it crashes to the ground, bringing Yukiko with it. So, Yukiko is stuck in the wilderness with an injured arashitora that isnt too fond of her, but being alone for so long can do things to people. Like make them friends. And the friendship between these two may have the power to destroy the corrupt nation and start righting the wrongs that the Shōgun has commited for years. Will the two have the power to stir an entire nation? Or will they be crushed by the ultimate power of the land?
Yukiko is an absolutely amazing heroine, smart and strong and compassionate. She’s not the “hard” kind of strong; she’s the caring kind, the kind that sacrifices for others, but not overly so that they are walking all over her. She also knows her way with a sword, and she is really smart and cunning: “Kitsune takes care of his own.” She is part of the fox (Kitsune) clan, so she is stealthy and sly (and awesome, but I think that’s just her). Then, there’s Buruu. He’s an arashitora: the front half is an eagle and the back half is a tiger. That description alone should make you like him already. But, other than that, he’s super strong; he can rip off the head of an oni in ten seconds flat. Plus, once he actually likes Yukiko, he’s really protective and he gets adorably jealous when she talks to other people instead of to him. I’m IN LOVE with Buruu and Yukiko’s relationship. It’s more of a familial relationship and it’s SO ADORABLE I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT. And together, these characters alone make up for an amazing story. But throw in a drunken father, a badass maid, and a defiant princess, and you’ve got an awesome set of characters!
The story, of course, was another strongpoint of the book, but before I get into that, I have to talk about the writing. I know I usually don’t pay much attention to it, but it’s hard not to notice it in this book. It is so descriptive and the adjectives perfectly fit the mood and theme of the book. And I mean PERFECTLY. I honestly don’t think that that Kristoff could have chosen better words to use. And may I just add that he used the word “squeezeway” a few times, and it made me crack up every single time I read it for some reason…
Anyway, the story. It was fast-paced, nail-biting (seriously, my nails are all gone), and, for the most part, unpredictable. There were a few things here and there that I could see coming, but definitely not everything (which I seem pretty good at most of the time…). I was so into the book that I couldn’t ever put it down!! There were times in the story when one of the characters would be talking, and I would literally get goose bumps from whatever it is they were saying. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but I’m sure it was profound and great from my reactions to them! J
Before any of you read this book, I have a few words of caution: It is extremely confusing. At first. If you’re not good at following characters and remembering the names of things, it may seem a bit confusing. Heck, even if you’re good at it, it may seem a bit challenging. But, don’t worry too much because it gets better! Within the first few chapters, I had everything sorted out just fine and I understood everything, so if you’re reading and are confused, don’t give up! It gets better! And trust me, you won’t regret reading this marvelous book.