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Risuko

A Kunoichi Tale

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Samurai, assassins, warlords... and a girl who likes to climb

”Tight, exciting, and thoughtful!” -- Kirkus
Kano Murasaki, you may not realize it, but I have done you a great favor. I have it in my power to give you a gift that you don’t even realize you desire. Make yourself worth my trouble, and you will be glad of it. Disappoint me, and you will be very, very sorry.

~*~

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. 

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Seasons of the Sword #1
Can one girl win a war?
Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. 

Or could she? 

Customer Reviews

An exciting plunge into historic Japan

I like books with well-developed characters and good writing. This book has both.

It’s both a school coming-of-age adventure (a la Harry Potter), a historical immersion, and a subtle ethical drama. The main character, Risuko, gets bought away from her family and spends the rest of the book trying to figure out just what she’s landed in. A while series of mysteries confronts her — along with life-and-death situations — all while she struggles to figure out who she really is and how to do the right thing, when there doesn’t seem to be any clear right or wrong.

I’m really looking forward to the second volume, Bright Eyes!

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review*

Brilliant Re-envisioned History of Feudal Japan

I would like to thank Stillpoint Digital Press & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.

Goodreads Teaser: "Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?"

Absolutely engrossing, this story grabbed me from the very start. Replete with vivid details, gorgeous descriptions, and rich emotions, this is the beginning of what looks to be a tale well worth the telling. Risuko is an exceptional character, with a rich inner life, and all the challenges you'd expect, plus more, in her daily life. Swept away from her family and all she's ever known, thrust into unusual and difficult situations on a regular basis, still she holds her personal integrity and sense of self - even when she isn't at all sure who she really is. Learning about Risuko's new life with her is a rewarding experience, and I'm already anxious for the next part of her story.

But Risuko isn't the only character in this story, and the others are just as well crafted. While I didn't learn as much about all the other players on the board, they were smoothly positioned and each had at least one hook that pulled me toward them, increasing my desire to know about them as well. It seems fairly clear that many of these characters will play much more prominent roles as this tale unfolds, and I, for one, greatly anticipate discovering who will become powerful players, and who will fade away.

Mr. Kudler has envisioned and created an intensely interesting world, a world in which he managed to put me into Risuko's shoes while still allowing me to see the larger picture that is not yet visible to her. That is an exceptional feat, and one which I am grateful to have experienced. Having Risuko's inner turmoil mirror the external turmoil taking place in Japan is a blessing for the reader. Thus far the arc of the story has been perfectly matched to both the development of the characters and the placement of the action. He has managed to propel Risuko forward into a world that both intrigues and repels me. That takes skill, and a deft touch. Both of which are very visible in this book. Now, where's the next part of the story already?

Slow pacing and minimal action

Check out this cover art. It’s amazing, right? I’ll admit, I requested this book from NetGalley all those months ago because this cover is amazing. So pretty. Plus there was a little girl called ‘Squirrel’ who is supposed to unite Japan? Sounds awesome!

Unfortunately, I found the story lacking. I couldn’t really connect to the characters on a deep enough level. For example, in the beginning, Risuko is taken from her village after being purchased by Lady Chiyome, and she digs in her heels a little at first, but it really didn’t take much for her to seemingly “get over” being taken from her mother and sister. Sure on the outside she accepts her fate, but I find it hard to believe that a little girl would not even have any internal dialogue resenting Lady Chime or missing her family. She just kind of goes through the motions as if this is all normal.

Now, that isn’t to say that all characters were difficult to understand. The exception is Kee Sun, the Korean cook working for Lady Chiyome. He was fabulous! He has his own nicknames for everyone and just a very vibrant personality.

As far as pacing and plot, it took a really long time to figure out what the plot really was. Things were happening to Risuko, but it was almost like she was a bystander. Her actions were the result of people telling her what to do. It took a long time before her own actions began to drive the plot forward. By the time it ended, I liked where things had gone, but I just didn’t get enough sense of Risuko’s growth as a character. And while I can’t think of any scenes that should have been cut, I just didn’t see most of them really driving the plot forward.

There were some really cool things in this book though. I learned a little about ancient Japan and the Takeda empire. I loved the concept of these women being trained as shrine maidens, but also spies and killers. There was some interesting information about herbs that I enjoyed reading about. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

Also, the tag line – Can one girl win a war? – is a little misleading. Because really, not much happened in this book. I can see maybe in future books this being a true catch line, but not this one.

Risuko
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  • $3.99
  • Level: Grades 6-12
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Jun 15, 2016
  • Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press
  • Seller: David Kudler
  • Print Length: 230 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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