Death is her destiny.
I would like to start by thanking HarperCollins Canada and the HCC Frenzy (YA influencers) team for not one, not two, but THREE opportunities to read and enjoy this fantastic book before it hit the shelves. One of my most anticipated fall catalogue titles after the fall preview evening, I requested both the eARC and audio ARC copies as soon as I could via NetGalley, and was later pleasantly surprised to see that this ended up being one of my two randomly assigned print ARCs that showed up at my door a couple of weeks later. Thank you! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
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About the Book
The Keeper of Night
The Keeper of Night Book One
by Kylie Lee Baker
Publishing 12 October 2021
Page Count: 400
Publishing 12 October 2021
Dreamscape Media, LLC
Narrator: Rebecca Yeo
Audio Length: 12 hours and 22 minutes
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
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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
My Rating: 5 Stars
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The Keeper of Night is a suspense-filled urban fantasy steeped in Japanese mythology that follows Ren, an biracial Reaper who suddenly finds herself unwelcome in Britain and fleeing to her other ancestral home, Japan, to join the Shinigami. When she finally arrives and finds the Goddess of Death she’s tasked with three missions to prove her worth and sets off to complete these tasks with the help of her half-brother, British Reaper Neven, and a banished Shinigami by the name of Hiro. How far will she go to earn Death’s favour? Who can she trust? Will she ever belong anywhere?
This is such a beautifully dark and tragic story that manages to make you sympathize with immoral agents of Death and keeps you guessing until the very end. The prose is gorgeous, the elements of mystery are compelling, and the characters feel so real. Neven is precious! We would definitely be friends.
I found myself trying to figure out what Ren didn’t know as the story went on, trying to figure out it Neven’s worries were valid, and every time I thought I knew what the next reveal was going to be I was proven ever so slightly wrong. The pacing is perfect and the twists are so satisfyingly perfect, even if I couldn’t quite guess them. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say the ending is not a happy one, but I wouldn’t want it to be. This book is far more impactful without the rose-coloured glasses that would be required to envision a happy ending, and I doubt any attentive reader will expect a happy ending by the time they’ve reached the halfway point.
And can we give credit where credit’s due and praise the biracial representation? This main character is a BIPOC woman whose heritage is split between the East and the West, and neither world claims her as their own. Her turmoil and pain over this feels so genuine. For readers who are also biracial, I think they’ll feel very seen and understood. For everyone else, it’s a glimpse of understanding into an existence we might not otherwise understand.
The audiobook narration by Rebecca Yeo was fantastic! I appreciated the accurate Japanese pronunciations that really made it all feel that much more authentic. Rebecca was able to make each character sound distinct without adopting any annoyingly extreme pitch shifting tactics, and I’ll always give props to narrators who can do that. My one critique is that every time the phrase “silver fish” came up, as in fish that are silver or metallic, is sounded smooshed together into “silverfish,” which are tiny, moisture-loving pests that may crop up in a bathroom with poorly sealed fixtures. Context helped avoid genuine confusion, but it pricked my ears and made my take note every time it was said.
Thanks again to everyone who decided I needed to read this book. You were right, and I agree! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, Japanese mythology, or coming-of-age tragedies.
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