A Great Idea but Lacking Execution
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
I really wanted to love this book. I did! The concept of the Japanese setting/influences by an own voices author, the youkai and the fight to get the marriage with the prince and the power, mostly the power, sounded like a great combination. Should have been. But it lacked in execution.
Let’s start with the positive though. What drew me to this book is as I said the Japanese setting/influences by an own voices author. There have been other kind of books written with Japanese influences but unfortunately these were not all that often by own voices authors. I loved seeing the mythology influence, the correct usage of kimono’s, the youkai. There were so many different kind of youkai mentioned in this book which was great. I hope that in the next one they will be getting a bit more page time. I love the idea of the seasonal rooms and what they had to endure in there. And that it wasn’t all very dragged out.
Another positive thing was Mari for sure. She was someone who was very conflicted about her place amongst her own and what she was meant to do. I liked her almost immediately. Regardless of her place amongst her own, she was strong and not afraid to say what she thought.
The execution lacked a lot in the way the story was told. We initially get a point of view of Mari, the youkai and Taro, the prince. I initially quite liked Taro. He clearly didn’t like what was going on in the palace and how youkai were treated. However at the moment of meeting Mari there is an instalove from his side, and something he has been planning for a while goes right out of the water. After that his point of views solely focus on Mari and I feel like we lost the righteous prince we got the meet in the first couple of chapters
After a few chapters of going back and forth between Mari and Taro point of views, we get the point of view of Akira. I could have honestly done without him. He also has a complete focus on Mari and his chapters were completely boring to read for most of the book. I just didn’t get a real personality from him at all. He was so bland. I also felt that his only reason for getting a point of view was so he could show the youkai resistance. Which he didn’t even care about. It was such a missed opportunity. There were other ways to show the resistance.