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I love this series so much. I can't pin point the exact reason why, because there's so much that I love about it. Emi has grown so much in such a little time. Her and A girl's relationship really blossoms in this book. There is heart ache and happiness in this, but it's the good kind that keeps you reading. On to book three! Please don't disappoint me!
Emi is one of the purest, most beautiful characters I’ve ever come across. She’s innocent, sweet, but so completely determined to see her task through to the end. Her ability to look beyond herself for the good of others is humbling and it kinda breaks your heart a little. She understands love in a way that’s rare for humanity and it earns her the respect of gods. But she isn’t the unrelatable, unattainable, slightly intimidating figure she’s regarded as by the guji and the other mikos; she’s also very human, with human fears, human joys, and human burdens. She’s started embracing life and that includes her attraction to Shiro. And while I wouldn’t categorize this series as a romance per say (it’s so much more than that), the thread does run through the story and its presence is much stronger than in Red Winter. Emi and Shiro’s love is one of those delicious, slow-burn kind of things and I can’t wait to find out where they ultimately wind up. (And in case you were wondering, Yumei is still yummy and awesome and more than a little terrifying. He kicks some major ass, too.)
In addition to great characters, Ms. Marie penned a rich, vivid world for this story to take place in. The melding of magic, mythology, and formal, almost archaic religious practices with what could easily be modern-day Japan is surprisingly perfect. The modern stuff only shows up in hints and glimpses, more of a backdrop than anything else, and I’m glad because I feel like anything more intrusive would ruin the supernatural elements. Oh, and spoiler alert: there are spiders and dragons. Big, awful, magic spiders and dragons that are creepy as fuck and totally the stuff of your nightmares. I’m pretty sure I held my breath through those entire sections. *shudder*.
Although I was gifted a print copy of Dark Tempest, I ended up buying the audio version and it was fantastic. Emily Woo Zeller was the perfect narrator and I now know how some of the words should be pronounced, which is a nice bonus. Her voice as both narrator and characters captured the life of this story and gave it an atmosphere I think I would have missed in the print version–though that does have some gorgeous illustrations, so definitely check it out.
Bottom line: In this case, I totally condone judging a book by its cover, because the story is just as amazingly beautiful as the artwork. Ms. Marie has truly created something unique and captivating with this trilogy and now I’m off to read Immortal Fire because I just might die if I don’t find out what happens
Review first appeared on the "Red Hot Books" review blog