Sunday, September 16, 2012

{Review} Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff


The Lotus War #1
by Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages/Format: 336; Hardcover & e-book
Source: Netgalley

The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that 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.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Powell's

Jay Kristoff's debut, Stormdancer, is truly one of its kind. A Japanese steampunk fantasy with a hardcore dystopian edge, Stormdancer is an epic example of genre blending in its most pristine form. The plot is rich with action, emotion, and realistic human nature. Though Kristoff's version of Japanese culture, so heavily embedded in the story, may be unfamiliar to readers, it will not hinder one from enjoying the declining world Kristoff presents.

Stormdancer may not immediately dazzle readers through the detailed world building and pseudo-history lessons that explain the state of the Shima empire, but Kristoff's writing style keeps readers involved and inching toward the edge of their seats with every chapter. The story is told from the perspective of characters from different walks of life so readers will receive a genuine feel for life in the Shima Isles, whether the events are positive or negative. Stormdancer will effect every reader in some way or another, whether it's a touch of warmth toward the growing bond between Yukiko and the thunder tiger, or strong hate towards the rulers like Yoritomo who aid in the destruction of the land.

Dystopian is by far the strongest element for Stormdancer because it's evident from the bery beginning of the novel. The fantasy aspect of the novel is original in Kristoff's focus on the mythological creature arashitora, or the thunder tiger, but it seems that the execution is too simple and not all that surprising or explosive. The opportunity to read a story that includes a rare half-eagle, half-tiger creature is a major draw for Stormdancer, and hopefully as the Lotus War series continues Kristoff will invite more focus to fall on the arashitora, or the other rare mythological creatures mentioned, to enhance the fantasy element even further.
*eARC provided by publisher through Netgalley for an honest review*

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