Title: The Keeper of Night
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: 27th October 2021 by Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA
Pages: 381 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: fantasy, young adult, historical fiction
My Rating: 4 crowns
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
‘The hush of leaves in the wind was a thousand formless whispers, both in my ear and a hundred miles away. Ocean waves sighed over our feet and shattered like glass. Even the air resonated with the heavy faraway hum of a bell toll. The underworld felt alive in a way that that living world never did.’
The Keeper of Night is the first book in a historical fantasy duology by debut author Kylie Lee Baker. It is a thrilling, vivid and engrossing young adult novel built upon the history of Japanese folklore. This story has embodied pages of detail, aesthetic prose and incorporates many themes and ideas that make you pause, put down the book for a second to consider and contemplate.
Ren Scarborough is the protagonist of this entrancing historical fantasy novel. She is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami and introduces us to an incredible world of time, death, urban legends and so much more. This is a fantastical story incorporating various elements of Japanese folklore, for example, Shinigami (death spirits) and Yomi (the Underworld). It also touches on topics such as race, identity, acceptance, neglect and bullying which are always important to issues to both address and discuss.
The Keeper of Night is such a promising first book as it brings a fresh approach to YA fantasy with its unique world building, magic and strong characterisation. Kylie Lee has captured feelings that may appear harsh but are memorably tied together with a battle between power and hope. I look forward to seeing where she will take Ren’s character in the next.
‘For every time we stopped the clock, we could hear a distant ticking that grew louder as the stolen moments passed, reminding us that one day, no matter how much we tried to steal back, Death would come for us.’
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.