Chaos has broken out in the isolated Dragon Clan settlement of Seibo Mura. During the full moon, horrifying creatures rampage through the village, unleashing havoc and death. When the Dragon samurai Agasha no Isao Ryotora is sent to investigate, he faces even greater danger than expected. To save the village, he must confront his buried past – not to mention an unexpected Phoenix Clan visitor, Asako Sekken, who has his own secrets to hide. The quest to save Sebo Mura will take the two samurai into the depths of forgotten history and the shifting terrain of the Spirit Realms… and bring them face to face with an ancient, terrifying evil.
I requested this book through Netgalley because of it’s author (and the cover to be honest), not knowing anything going into it. I was definitely excited though… and sadly somewhat disappointed.
I love the idea of this. Every full moon a remote village gets attacked by a whole host of mythical and magical creatures, and it is up to two samurai to find out why and stop it. Both samurai have their own secrets, the being born into the village and spirited away at a very young age, the other is haunted by a spirit dog. I loved the idea and the setting was immersive and magical. I am not familiar with the world of Legends of the Five Rings, nor with the Japanse mythology a lot of this is based on, so I cannot judge its accuracy. But for someone as ignorant as me it genuine and like Brennan knows what she is writing about. I would at times get a bit lost in all the different creatures, but again, that is because I am not familiar with them, and I did enjoy looking them up online from time to time.
So why was I disappointed? Well, at no point did I feel invested in the story. While I was reading it I was enjoying myself, but when I put it down I never felt inclined to pick it up again. Nothing really happens till about 85% into the book. The rest is spent talking to villagers and finding out why the attacks happen there. If the book had started with one of such attacks it would have already made a big difference I feel. And sure, Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent books aren’t the most action packed books either. But they have good characters. These guys? Not so much. We switched perspective between the two samurai, but I barely noticed a difference in their inner voice. They are good and proper man… which makes them lack in personality. Only one of the side characters sorta stood out, but again not enough to make me care for her. And then there is the romance… I appreciate the idea, but the execution was so annoying. These two characters are constantly just lusting after each other, but don’t bother to tell each other of their feelings. It is so angsty, which never fails to infuriate me. And it is not like these characters have any chemistry either. I just didn’t care for it whatsoever.
So I am sorry to say I am not a massive fan of this book. It did succeed in making me interested in the world though, so I would love to check out some of the novellas (and hope they suit me better). I ended up giving this a 3* rating. It definitely isn’t a bad book, and I can see people enjoying it for sure. I just needed a bit more from it.