This book was reviewed via Netgalley
Marie’s Red Winter tells the engaging story of Emi, a girl training as the kamigakari of Amaterasu. She’s been following this path for the past ten years and it is all coming to fruition. She is just two months shy of truly becoming the avatar of Amaterasu.
This path has been fraught with danger. Amaterasu has not had a kamigakari in a hundred years. Her priests will do anything and everything to ensure Emi is successful. Following a yokai attack three years previous, Emi has been moved from shrine to shrine every few months. Her final shrine home is in the deep mountains, close to where the final ceremony is to take place. Here she is reunited with Katsuo, whom she had last seen on that fateful day of the yokai attack. Katsuo is a sohei, a warrior priest, and one of two assigned to protect the kamigakari.
Despite the rapidly approaching ceremony date, Emi knows nothing about what to expect from it. When she comes into possession of a kannushi manual, she learns that everything she thought she knew about what being kamigakari means is false. For the past ten years she has sacrificed everything in order to train for this role. All of the things a young girl would expect to have done, Emi has missed out on. Sleepovers, junk food binges, kissing a boy, just to name a few. The demands of her training even cost Emi her family.
Emi’s inner turmoil at learning the truth prompts a rash of reckless behaviour that lands her outside of the shrine grounds without either of her sohei guards. She meets a kitsune, and an oni, after getting lost in the woods. Though both are yokai, one becomes an erstwhile friend while the other would like nothing more than to call her lunch. By saving the life of the one, Emi earns a favour. What she asks for has the power to change everything.
Oh, I fell in love with this from the first word! This was my first experience with the author’s works, but now I have big plans to go check her other books out. Marie weaves a wonderful story. I couldn’t put this book down. I love books that focus on Asian mythology of any flavour, but Japanese mythology is a big favourite, especially since much of this recalled Inuyasha, an anime I also adore. To a lesser extent it reminded me of Saiyuki, another favourite anime. In addition to some rather brilliant writing by Marie, there are also some stunning illustrations by Brittany Jackson scattered throughout.
?????Highly recommended, especially if you like books such as Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse series, Christina Farley’s Gilded series, and, of course, Inuyasha!