Title: The Empress of Time
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: 19th October 2022 by HQ Fiction Young Adult AU
Pages: 405 pages
Genre: fantasy, young adult, historical fiction
My Rating: 3.5 cups
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England—she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But her problems have never been greater. Her Shinigami see her as a foreigner on the throne. Her brother, Neven, is gone, lost in the deep darkness. And her fiancé, Hiro, has been killed by her own hand.
Then Ren receives the most troubling news yet—Reapers have been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.
Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll help Ren only if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago—an impossible demand.
Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his brother Hiro, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her into the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust—and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance.
The Empress of Time is the conclusion to Kylie Lee Baker's The Keeper of the Night duology. The story follows Ren Scarborough, who is half-British Reaper, half-Japanese Shinigami.
‘Deep down below the land of the living, in a place where light could not reach, I lived in a castle of shadows.’
I enjoyed the first book and was interested to see how Ren’s story would conclude. Readers were eager for this second book as book one had finished on such a cliffhanger. Most, including myself, were surprised that rather than picking up where it left off there was a huge time jump of many years. This was disconcerting. Although a little slow to start, the action picked up and ultimately bought the same feels as book one.
‘The night stole the parts of you that no one wanted- all your lies and broken promises and disappointments.’
The strong themes from book one continue - race, identity, neglect and acceptance - and it was satisfying that the author continued with Ren’s struggles in finding her place. The resolutions and conclusions were complete, so if you enjoyed book one it is worth your while finishing this duology. On a personal note, I do feel that this second instalment did not have the same impact as the first.
‘This is what love is …. love only became real when it was no longer easy. Like Death and time and darkness, it demanded payment, and I would give everything I had.’
If a weaving of Japanese folklore, mythology and dark fantasy appeals to you, be sure to check out this series. With concepts of the struggles of finding one’s place, especially for someone of mixed heritage, this is sure to speak to a wide YA audience.
‘She had tried to live in the land where she was raised, and then the land where she was born, and finally the land that she had stolen. But every time, the soil dried up, the stars dimmed, and the tides retreated as if to say, This will never be yours. You are the queen of nowhere, and you deserve nothing.’
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.
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