In The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, Ren Scarbourough is a girl caught between two worlds. Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, she and her brother, Neven, are never accepted in Britain. When things fall apart and she decides to go looking for her mother and a place among the Japanese Shinigami she finds an adventure and fairy-tale horror awaits in the dark.
“I took one step into the void, and the darkness breathed me in.” – Kylie Lee Baker, The Keeper of Night
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker came to me from Book of the Month and I couldn’t be more excited to see Japanese lore coming to mainstream stories. I was impressed with the stories that were incorporated into this retelling. Japanese lore has always struck me as darker and more sinister than other lores and this lived up to that reputation. There are so many night-beasties and things that go bump in the dark in this book. I devoured them all.
As for our main character, Ren and her brother, Neven, I often felt that these two were all alone in the world. There was a desperate, lonely quality to this story which is highlighted in the moments of possibility and connection with others. This world is all or nothing and more often than not, it’s nothing. More than the horror of the beasties, the loneliness and rejection are haunting.
Once this story came close to the ending, I felt that it became almost a montage of increasingly terrifying discoveries. While there were so many vignettes of stories in the journey, the ending was quick and severe. I am pleased to say that there will be a follow-up as this is the first of a duology, so there might be some redemption.
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker lived up to the promise of telling a Japanese-centric tale of death and the under-realms. From the exciting beginnings came brutal endings that may only be softened by a second novel. Thankfully for us all, Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker is expected Oct. 4th 2022.
I recommend this book if you’re interested in reading fairy lore from Japanese culture.
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