Hello everyone!! I’m back with a book review and this time it’s on THE KEEPER OF NIGHT BY KYLIE LEE BAKER.
I was really excited for this book because 1890s Japan?? A book packed with Japanese folklore?? A biracial protagonist struggling to fit in?? A mysterious love interest?? And a wholesome yet conflicting sibling dynamic?? All I have to say is, yes.
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Trigger Warnings: Blood, gore, death, murder, racism, emotional neglect of a child, mentions of child abandonment.
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.
“Everything I saw was a story that had been stolen from me”
Alright, I don’t know why I hadn’t heard about this book earlier and I’m crying because it was so amazing. I love reading historical fantasies because they’re so much cooler than the present world. The Keeper of Night was majorly set in 1890s Japan, with a few aspects of London shown at the beginning of the book. The book was packed with Japanese culture and I really really loved to read that. It’s safe to say that Japanese folklore scares me a lot, the stories are very creepy but they were so interesting!! The Keeper of Night explores various themes such as identity, family, relationships, finding one’s true self, culture, and many more which I am going to talk about in this review!
WRITING & PLOT:
The writing and plot was fantastic! I mean coming up with a way to incorporate the concept of Shinigami into a book?? That was amazing. The plot was very unique, and unlike any other I had read before, yes the story was a bit slow at first but as soon as I settled into the story I couldn’t put it down. I don’t think I’ve actually read a book set in 1890s Japan so this was really new and special for me. One of the aspects makes The Keeper of Night stand out from other books is its exquisite world building. It was clear that the author put her heart and soul into the research for this book and it shows!! Growing up I watched a lot of Japanese cartoons, and almost all of them had Japanese “ghost stories” or stories about Japanese myths, seeing that shown in a book was so amazing because I actually remembered a few stories LOL.
Ren was a great character, seeing her struggle to fit in because of her biracial identity was written with raw emotion and I’m sure made an impact on each and every reader. Seeing her struggle in London because she was half Japanese and her struggling in Japan because she was half British, and looked foreign was written perfectly. Throughout her life Ren had been stuck between two worlds, and when given the opportunity to be a part of one world, AN INTEGRAL PART, she took the opportunity and was willing to do anything. Absolutely anything.
Neven, my poor wonderful Neven. Neven was the only “normal” character in this book. He was a Reaper but he hated stealing souls. He was kind and righteous, and had a great relationship with his sister Ren. What was a cute brother sister relationship, slowly started to turn sour because of Ren’s need to be full Shinigami. There were secrets, a language barrier and many other aspects that started creating conflicts in a wonderful relationship as theirs. I do hope to see more Ren-Neven bonding in book #2!!
Hiro was GAH! Hiro was very funny and charming. Yes, he was a very mysterious character too, that agreed to help Ren and Neven in their quest. I can’t say more about Hiro without spoiling the book, but I will say that he was a very complex character. I liked his relationship with Ren and I do hope to see what’s next for them in book #2.
In conclusion this book was amazing and everyone needs to read it!! This has become one of the few historical fantasies that I have really come to love and I will be recommending The Keeper of Night to everyone!
TL;DR: A thrilling fantasy debut that explores identity, 1890s Japan, relationships, culture, and is packed with dark Japanese folktales that is sure to make any reader scream for book #2!!
Have you read The Keeper of Night? What did you think of it? Do you have any other Asian inspired historical fantasy recommendations? Leave them in the comments below!
Sending incoherent screams about how I need book #2 right now,