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Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One)

Stormdancer  - Jay Kristoff Once a thriving nation filled with rich lands and spirit beasts, the Shima Islands are now dying. The industrialization brought on by the blood lotus is now the only source of their country’s wealth and progress, but the flower has poisoned the land turning it black and barren, polluted the air turning it red as the lotus petals, and is killing the people. Yet the Shogun turns a blind eye to it all. Yoritomo only cares about his latest vision, where he led his army against the gaijin outsiders flying on the back of an arishatora. To make his dream come true, he sends his Master Hunter in search of the ‘thunder tiger,’ a part eagle and part tiger mythological spirit beast that hasn’t been seen for centuries. It is an impossible quest, and failure only means death. Yukiko knows this and begs her father to reconsider, but the Master Hunter knows he can’t back down. When their airship goes down in a thunderstorm, Yukiko is stranded with only the thunder tiger for company. Deep in the Ishi Mountains, the last wilderness in all of Shima, anything is possible, and the bond that these two create will make them stronger than the Stormdancers of legend. Will it be enough to challenge the empire?Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer is fantasy like you’ve never seen before. A mix of Asian mythology with a unique steampunk twist in an incredible fantasy world!Before I even finished Stormdancer I was already checking for mentions of a sequel. The imagery that Kristoff builds is just awe inspiring. He captures in prose those fantastical scenes and battles that I love so much in Asian movies because it makes them so unique. The descriptions are a key element in this story and while I loved them sometimes too much of a good thing can become bad, or even confusing. But Yukiko’s story grabbed me from chapter one and no amount of occasional dragging or confusing imagery kept me from plowing on ahead.Yukiko isn’t the only POV we get, but she’s the main one. She is sixteen-year old girl with badass moves and a mouth that gets her into trouble. She is yokai-kin or spirit touched, meaning she can communicate with animals. It’s a very dangerous gift to have, because the Lotus Guild burns all ‘impures.’ Just like they killed all spirit beasts, they claim the spirit touched must die too. Yukiko never set out to start a revolution, in fact, she doesn’t want to. The only thing she wants is her family back, but sometimes great sacrifices must be made for the good of the many. For the first time ever, I wasn’t disappointed at the lack of strong romance elements in a story. Though there are two very handsome young men in Yukiko’s life, her attraction to them is not even second or third in subplots. Yet it never felt as a lack of romance in the story. Probably because there was so much awesome going on at the same time. Anyways, the two romantic interests are …well interesting. The Iron Samurai with sea-green eyes, the one she can’t stop thinking about night after night, kept me wondering all the time. And Kin, the mysterious boy with silver eyes who’s a Guildsman Artificer. He’s practically the enemy, yet there’s something about him that makes Yukiko trust him. Even if Yukiko never realized the depths of Kin’s feelings for her, I knew he was the best choice from the start. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is never to trust pretty boys, and Hiro is way too pretty.Like I mentioned above this is a fantasy story with steampunk elements. Lately I’ve read a couple of steampunk novels that promised yet didn’t deliver. This is SO not the case with Stormdancer. There are airships, mechanical suits, chainkatanas, and plenty of curious inventions in every scene! Add that to the non-stop action and a very powerful thunder tiger with the power of storms at his beck and call, and you’ve got a mind-blowing story. Those ending chapters had me completely on edge. I just wanted my own chainkatana to start lopping some heads off, and believe me, they needed to be chopped. People of the blogoverse, I am not kidding. You all need to order Stormdancer NOW and prepare for some serious adventure time coming this September 18!PS: Oh, and don’t worry about getting confused with all the Asian names and terms because the book comes with a map and a glossary! I’m a sucker for maps.*Arc copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley*