Risuko by David Kudler - Spoiler Free Review | I want to go to Japan. Now.

April 29, 2016

Title: Risuko
Author: David Kudler
Series: Seasons of Sword #1
Genre: YA Historical Adventure
Publication Date: June 15th 2016
Format Read: E-Book
Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press
Rating: ★★★★.5
**Netgalley provided me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review**
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?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.

This book was definitely not what I expected. I loved it, but it was very strange at some points. 

At this point in history, Japan is at war with itself, and it's getting old. There is a group of people called the Kunoichi, who seem to go to a mysterious school to train and enhance strange skills. Our main character, Risuko, is dragged into this group and forced to abide by their traditions.

The plot was very interesting. At times, its progression felt slow but overall, the story was well constructed. I enjoyed the world building at the "school" for Kunoichi and I loved seeing all the antics they got into. The main twist in this plot didn't come as a surprise to me. I had already sussed it out, which was a bit disappointing. 

Our main character, Kano Murasaki, loves to climb... well... everything. Her nickname is Risuko, or "Squirrel." It amazed me how easily she was able to ascend a wall or a tree, even in extreme winter climate. Her various abilities and great memory is intriguing. She is a quick learner and a smart cookie, and I very much enjoyed reading about her.

Emi and Toumi are two of her roommates. Emi is quite private, she doesn't mingle with those she doesn't know well. She seemed to always have a frown on her face, so the few moments of her laughter scattered throughout the book were enjoyable. She was very timid and.. cute. Toumi was the complete opposite. Outspoken and malicious, she was the "mean girl" of the lot. I don't like her, but she has potential to grow as a character.

There were tons of other interesting characters at Mochizuki, the "school." The lieutenant Masugu-san was one of my favourites. He was kind and gentle, but could butcher the enemies with no hesitation. Speaking of butchering, the head chef for whom the girls worked for - Kee Sun - was my favourite character. I loved his little rants in Korean and his lively personality. His nicknames were hilarious, and his prejudice towards Toumi was one of the main factors of my liking.

To be honest, the writing was the only thing that kept this book from getting 5 stars. I was very confused and had to re-read many parts because the constant switching between the Japanese and English terms was all over the place. The same thing with the names, so many of them I couldn't keep track of. It will take some getting used to for me to completely grasp the Japanese elements, but that is my fault and not the author's so my rating could be construed as unfair. 

The writing wasn't boring in any way, and I flew through this book once I got the time to sit down and read. It's very simple and easy to understand and doesn't require a lot of brain-power to process despite the intricate build of Japan at that particular time. 

Overall, Risuko is an entertaining read with great characters and engaging writing, although grasping the Japanese terms and meanings could take a while.

"I tell yeh, Bright-eyes. Men and Women? A bloody Mess. Every Time."

Have you read this? If so, what are your thoughts?

P.S. - For some reason I felt tempted to do a little graphic art thing:

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  1. Ooh, this definitely sounds intriguing. I might pop it on my wishlist!

  2. Glad you enjoyed Risuko, Rekha!

    1. Me too! Thanks for writing it :)

    2. Also — that quote by Kee Sun was one of my favorites in the book. :-)

    3. Haha, yes, a very true - yet hilarious - quote!


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