I just finished reading Red Winter by Annette Marie and I’m in love!
So far when I’ve read fiction (fantasy, horror, general fiction) books set in Japan, they fall into two categories: 1) fan fiction full of anime stuff, or 2) know-it-all’s who want to shove how much they know about Japan in your face and down your throat. Neither are fun to read. My sister lent me this book telling me how great it was but my expectations were not high because of the past experiences that I just glossed over.
However, I was BLOWN AWAY by this book!! It was AMAZING!!! I was handed so much cultural insight in a way that was interesting, polite and in a way that fit with the story and the characters rather than feeling like the author was boasting, “I know more than you. Look. See? I’m so awesome and cultural.”
The story was smooth without having annoying hiccups in the characters that seem to be placed in them in order to make the story longer and create more difficulties for the characters to overcome. In other words, Emi’s sensible and reacts as anyone would in her situation. She doesn’t do stupid things for no good reason. She doesn’t keep secrets that create tension and relationship difficulties. Her secrets are good to keep and she keeps them from the right people for the right amount of time.
The storyline is fascinating. All we’re given about the Kunitsukami and the Amatsukami is so interesting and full of detail without being overwhelming or intellectually dry. The yokai are awesome too! So full of personality and life and yet the author wrote them so well that you can’t confuse them for humans. I don’t mean how they look because it’s pretty obvious they don’t look human despite having humanoid bodies at times. I mean, they’re personalities. They’re so devoid of humanity. I couldn’t say Yumei was cruel or kind because it seemed to me that the yokai (all the different kinds of mythological entities in fact) were above our human qualities. Even Shiro at times.
Oh my goodness. Shiro. Don’t even get me started on that flaming hot kitsune. HOT DAMN! Jeez.
The story itself is well-told and super fun to read. It had me on tenterhooks more than once and I kept not wanting to go to bed because I just wanted to keep reading. I usually read while I ride bikes or walk on treadmills at the gym and every time I ended up going for way longer than I intended because I’d get so caught up in this book. The machines would actually turn off due to the time limit because I’d be swept away in Emi’s world of Japanese mythology.
OMG! And can I just mention that cover? The artwork is incredible!!
One last thing, the pictures scattered throughout the book are beautiful! They’re manga/anime-ish but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re reading manga if you don’t like manga. This is a good, solid book that focuses on Japanese mythology. Any mythology fan will find this a good read. I can’t wait to read the second book!! ❤ 😀