Title: Seven Deadly Shadows
Authors: Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani
Genre: YA Fantasy/Supernatural
Release Date: January 28th 2020 from HarperCollins
Format: Kindle ARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads Synopsis: Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.
But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.
Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.
With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.
*I requested and received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used in this review*
I can’t believe I have a review up for the first 2020 book for you guys! It’s crazy that the next year/decade is just around the corner already. But I was really excited for this book for quite a while and was so happy to get an ARC! I have read Shutter by Courtney Alameda, which I don’t shut up about but I haven’t read Maetani’s debut novel. But I think it’s really cool for both these authors to collaborate on this project and this is basically an anime in a YA book, so what’s not to love? There’s a note in the beginning of this book where both authors talk about how they started writing this book and how they were inspired by the iconic film Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa and this book is a re imaging of this famous story. Valynne E. Maetani is also of Japanese descent, so it is own voices for one of the authors.
This book was SO much fun and so easy to get sucked into! The story takes off very early in the book with Kira’s family shrine being attacked and how she vows to have revenge for what happened to those she loves and the destruction of the shrine. Kira is the only one in her family that loves the shrine and wants to take care of it. Her grandfather has taught her so much of the rituals and both do see the yokai that are hidden in everyday life and the glamours the demons have to look like real people. But Kira has a brother whose only focus is academic and is very absent and both her parents are very professional and strict and both of them don’t care to keep the shrine. This family tension is a major plot point of the book and we see how Kira’s grandfather is the only person that she comfortable with and feels loved by and her ties to the shrine are very personal.
The thing that I loved so much about this book was how easily the reader is transported to Japan. Both authors did go to Japan to read on the history, visit many Shinto shrines and also draw upon a lot of anime tropes and culture which was amazing. I loved learning all the different names for the yokai monsters and their appearances and the history of the monster races, all the descriptions of the setting and many other things. Plus many Japanese terms are used and all of it felt so genuine and rich. I grew up watching anime and have always loved it and I have known a few simple facts about Japan but I learned so much more with this book and that’s always a bonus when you learn a lot about a culture different from your own.
Another thing I loved was Kira’s growth throughout the story. She is a character that is very proud of her family history and fights to preserves what is so important to many Japanese families: their family legacy and their ancestors. She has a wonderful character arc as she navigates the change in her life and it was so interesting seeing her deal with the shinigami and finding the seven she needs to prevent the apocalypse. She isn’t sure what she’s doing most of the time, but is willing to take the necessary risks to not waste time. But at the same time, she learns how to draw upon her own strength and she comes more into herself. There’s a great moment where she faces the girls who bully her and it was so satisfying to read. Both authors create a wonderful protagonist who is both scared but also determined to protect the shrine she loves and isn’t going to back down. I rooted for her the entire time.
The next thing that I really enjoyed was the plot itself. I was wondering how the plot was going to with Kira trying to find the seven shinigami to prevent the demon lord from coming on the blood moon and basically causing the apocalypse. The mythology surrounding the yokai and the sun goddess was so fascinating and made this story very refreshing. I liked all the different places that Kira went with her companions. The action was very well done and I liked all the character interactions within the book. The pacing was really good until the last chapter, which I’ll admit did feel rushed. I wish that the last two or three chapters focused on the final battle instead of only chapter, but that was the only picky thing I had with the book. But if you’re looking for a Japanese fantasy book with an action packed and entertaining plot, please pick this up!
And the final thing that I really enjoyed was the sweet romance between Kira and Shiro, a boy who is a kitsune and who also worked at her grandfather’s shrine. They knew each other before the novel begins, so they already had a little bit of history which I always like in a YA book. The authors don’t let this romance overpower the main plot thread which I also appreciated. While these two do have feelings for each other, Shiro does help guide Kira into the demon world and teaches her how to fight and also helps protect her. Shiro is a sweet guy with good intentions and really respects Kira and Kira does the same for him. Their banter was adorable and their chemistry was very natural.
Overall: While the book does have a solid conclusion, I do wonder if this is a standalone or if there will be a sequel or a companion novel. Both authors have another book that’s listed on Goodreads but there isn’t any info. I would really like there to be a sequel or a spin-off book with these characters, but if not, it’s a really fun standalone book. If you love anime, then you should love this book! This comes out at the end of January, so keep it on your radar 🙂
Rating: .5 stars
Have you heard of this book? Are you excited for it? Have you read these authors before and if so, what did you think of their books? Let me know in the comments!