Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
published by Thomas Dunne Books
genre: YA, Mythology, Fantasy, Steampunk
Summary (Goodreads): A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
My Thoughts: This got extra marks just for the setting. I really enjoyed reading a steampunk that wasn't set in Victorian London. It has a lot of familiar elements but felt much darker.
I wasn't sure about Yukiko at first but she really grew on me after her and Buruu (the arashitora) are brought together. Even with all the betrayal and missteps she grew into a capable woman that is really to think for herself rather than follow the status quo.
There is a lot of evil in this book. From The Shogun and Lotus Guild to mythological demons that everyone thought no longer existed. The Lotus Guild came across as much more of the big bad than the Shogun. Even when he was killing someone it seemed more of a spoiled temper tantrum than true evil. He was a definite bad guy just not The Bad Guy.
You really get a sense of how evil the Guild is when Yukiko is trying to save Kin in the forest. Everything that they are forcing on the people they won't touch because it is not pure. I'm interested to see where Kin's story goes. He was questioning a lot by the end but also had to deal with betrayal from those he thought he could trust.
Overall, this lived up to the hype. It was set in a world that was unique to the usual steampunk. I cannot wait to read the next book and see what happens with not only Yukiko and Buruu but also Kin and The Guild.