A young Reaper in the late 19th century must prove her worth by slaying dangerous Japanese spirits.
Ren Scarborough was born half British and half Japanese Reaper (the latter called Shinigami) but has been living and collecting souls in London, England, for as long as she can remember. Her black hair and eyes make her stand out, leading other British Reapers to bully and abuse her. One day, her Shinigami powers—she can control light—rage out of control, forcing her to flee to Japan accompanied by the only individual who ever cared about her: Neven, her younger half brother. Seeking acceptance and a home, Ren and Neven descend into Yomi, the Japanese underworld. She is met there with resistance due to her foreign looks and must prove her worth. Aided by a handsome, exiled Shinigami who has a club foot, Ren must complete a near-impossible task by killing three murderous Yokai, or spirits, to earn her right to be accepted as a Shinigami. This dark historical fantasy seamlessly weaves Japanese folklore and magic into its storyline. Perfectly paced, it is filled with action, horrific death, mysterious motives, and raw emotions. Ren is complex and morally gray as she fights her way through a world of death and monsters. The story also touches on racism, ableism, self-acceptance, and finding one’s place in the world. The descriptive writing builds a highly immersive world for this duology opener.
Dark, gruesome—and absolutely captivating. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)