Series: Red Winter Trilogy #1
Published by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc. on 10/21/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Asia
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.
Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.
On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.
RED WINTER includes 10 full-page illustrations by artist Brittany Jackson.
Lately I’ve been fascinated with Japanese culture and mythology (my son actually got me into it), so when I saw this series, I knew I had to pick it up. First off, can we all drool over that cover for a moment? All of that gorgeousness deserves to be admired. Can’t. Look. Away.
Emi has dedicated her entire life to making herself the perfect vessel for the goddess Amaterasu. She has never questioned that dedication, never wavered in her devotion. But then she learns something that puts her whole life into a completely new—and frightening—perspective.
What Fed My Addiction:
- The mythology. This book is set in modern day Japan, but this isn’t one of those books with just hints of mythology. The story centers on the spirit world and Japanese deities. It’s obvious that Marie has done her research because of the detailed worldbuilding. But I never felt overwhelmed or confused—she wove the facts and terms into the story beautifully. The end result is a compelling story that introduces you to complex mythological characters and fascinating folklore.
- Duty vs. Freedom. Emi has always shown complete devotion to her duty. She has sacrificed everything—friends, family, romantic entanglements, all of the pleasures of life—so that she will be a pure vessel for her goddess. And she’s done it all completely willingly. She’s never questioned her dedication. After all, it’s a huge honor to be chosen. But one short conversation has her flustered, wondering if it’s possible she’s missed out on too much. And then she learns devastating news. News that changes everything. Suddenly, Emi wonders if all of her sacrifices have actually been worth it or if she should be rethinking her destiny—not that she can. I loved seeing Emi’s inner turmoil over this question of duty and sacrifice versus personal freedom. Once Emi starts to question her role, there are no easy answers. Her decisions aren’t black and white by any means, and the spirits she meets along the way only complicate things more.
- Shiro. Shiro is the type of character that’s impossible not to love. He’s cocky and a little dangerous, but it’s obvious from the start that he isn’t the evil spirit that Emi believes him to be. My favorite types of characters are “villains” who turn out to be much more, and Shiro and the other yokai fit this description perfectly.
- The romance. The romance in this story isn’t overwhelming. In fact, there are only hints of it, which makes complete sense considering Emi’s circumstances. There is a tiny hint of a love triangle, but I don’t know if you could even call it that because it’s so minor (and it felt incredibly realistic and non-dramatic).
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Teensy bit slow at the beginning. I found that it took me just a little while to find myself completely engaged in the storyline (but I was also really busy, which definitely had an affect on my reading at the beginning). Once Emi met Shiro, though, I was hooked.
If you’re a fan of mythological stories and retellings and you’re looking for something a little different, this book is perfect for you! (Plus, you need this book on your bookshelf so you can stare at its pretty cover.) I give this book an enthusiastic 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Barclay Publicity in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author:
Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every book.
Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.
Runner-Ups: 3 Winners will Each Receive one $10 Amazon Gift Card Each