Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker. That cover had me before I found out it followed a Grim/Shinigami character – it’s a must read for the spooky season! Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule for other content creators.
Thank you to Kylie Lee Baker and Inkyard Press for providing me with an ARC for this review. I was also gifted the audiobook by Inkyard Press and NetGalley – thank you both.
LoKylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her work is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, & Irish) as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a BA in creative writing and Spanish from Emory University and is pursuing a master of library and information science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she plays the cello, watches horror movies, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.
About The Book
Title: The Keeper of Night
Series: The Keeper of Night #1
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publishing Date: October 12th, 2021
Page Length: 400
Genre: Fantasy | Historical Fiction
Age Range: Young Adult
Rep: Japanese, Japanese Diaspora, Asian Asian Diaspora
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.
Content Warning: death (on page & discussed frequently), racism, sexism (brief), ableism, bullying, emotional neglect of a child by a parent, mentions of child abandonment, violence, murder, blood, gore
I haven’t read many books with grim reapers and none involving Shinigami, so I was immediately intrigued by the idea of following a character that was both. I was immediately sucked in. The world was familiar enough in the first few chapters so I had time to understand the magic and characters. I loved that we learned the role of the Reapers to later get introduced to the differences with Shinigamis. I found the entire world and mythology completely captivating – I wanted to know more with every page. I was introduced to a couple of Yokai demons and folktales that I wasn’t familiar with. I loved how the Yokai were introduced and represented in the book – and it encouraged me to do a bit of research when I wanted more (especially images of the Yokai). The bit of research wasn’t necessary though because Baker made sure that we learned the folktale while Ren did since she knew little of her heritage.
The characters in here felt fully fleshed out and their actions made sense for that character. We also have some mystery to why these characters are the way they are – we slowly learn about the side character along side Ren so what was revealed and when which made it feel natural and less like we are being told specifically for the plot or story to move forward. I loved Ren and had a deep connection with her. She was likeable, but flawed. Neven was a good best friend side character. You could feel his deep loyalty and love towards Ren and I felt heartbroken with some of the difficult conversations they had to have. Hiro I loved, but was suspicious of. The romantic (?) relationship between two of the characters, I felt, wasn’t a very believable one – one of the rare things I didn’t love in this book. I think my main problem is I’ve been reading too many Fantasy Romances where the Romance has more of a dominant presence.
I felt the pacing was well done. Baker knew when to have high action scenes and when we needed to slow down for a bit to learn about characters or magic or folktales. With the pacing, I felt that the book moved at a fairly fast pace, but had the depth of a slower paced one. I never felt lost, although some of the names I confused (completely normal for me) because the Yokai names and myths were not ones I was familiar with. If you’re wanting to read something different that has Japanese mythology then I highly recommend this one. If you’re looking for a spooky read, then I highly suggest this one too. It’s not a scary read by any means, but the overall atmosphere felt dark and gritty – plus we do spend a lot of time with Yokai, death, and the underworld.
My thoughts on the audiobook, unfortunately, aren’t very long. I thought the narrator, Rebecca Yeo, did a great job at voicing and giving the different characters a different voice. At no point was I confused on which character was speaking. I also found she did a great job at giving the book its emotions – I could tell when Ren was conflicted, hurt, or feeling loved. I highly recommend the audiobook.
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