Book Title: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale
Series: Seasons of the Sword
Author: David Kudler
Amazon Link: Click here
Star Rating: – Wonderful! Everyone should read this book.
Disclaimer: I received this free book from NetGalley in exchange for an un-biased review.
It’s so rewarding to find a new book series to love. It’s doubly satisfying to find one that I can share with my daughter as well. My daughter is only 7 now but in a couple of years’ time I can see her enjoying this new book, Risuko – A Kunoichi Tale. Risuko, which means squirrel, is the nickname of a young girl named Kano Murasaki. Like a squirrel she is playful, clever, intelligent, and loves climbing trees. Living in Feudal era Japan is tough and we find out quickly that she has been sold by her mother to a woman named Lady Mochizuki Chiyome. But before you start to feel too sorry for her, the Lady Chiyome is not quite what she seems at first, and this new life, though full of hardship will also give Risuko numerous opportunities. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the book so I will stop there.
What I loved most about this book is the setting and history. Yes this is YA, but it is also historical fiction. There are many details about life for the Japanese people, in particular the lives of women in that time. It is a fascinating story. Which the author has imbued with little details about language and day to day custom. I’ve been a fan of the Japanese culture for a long time. I love manga, anime, Japanese art and music, so this was right in my wheelhouse.
The main character also was very well written. Risuko has a lot to learn from Lady Chiyome, but how far does she bend her personal beliefs? The ideals she has learned from her beloved father are part of what make her such a lovely little person, and so valuable to Lady Chiyome. However, if she is to progress and make a success of her life in those hard times some of those ideals will need to change. This is all expressed in the book with feeling but also a light hand. The target audience is obviously a younger YA group and the book is appropriately an easy read, but still has a lot to say. I appreciated the authors’ easy touch.
I had only a few minor complaints when I read the book. One being that my copy, which is an early e-arc had maps that were not formatted correctly. They were unreadable, and the plot for the book does involve some maps and so that made it even harder to follow along with important plot points. That is not a reflection on the book itself and I’m sure that the publisher will change those things before its release. Secondly, there is some mention of menstruation which didn’t quite ring true to me. It felt a little more like a man’s view of what menstruation is like than what a girl’s first experience is really like. Some mention was made of the fact that the women in the household all had their period at the same time. This is not unheard of, but to the extent that it is in the book? Hmmm, not so much. I don’t feel it’s enough of a problem to mar the whole experience, and it’s not a major plot point, so don’t let that deter you from reading.
All in all, it was a really nice read. It was very quick, I finished it in just a few hours. I look forward to the next installment. From what I hear there is a second novel in the works, but I don’t have details about when it can be expected. I do know that I will be looking it up, and introducing it to my daughter as soon as she’s old enough.
Bonus link: Find sneak previews, character info, and more at Risuko.net. Enjoy!
Spotify Song for this book: Itsumo Nando Demo – Erutan