I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.
Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.
A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.
And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
When I heard this was a fantasy novel set in Japan, I knew I had to read it. And it turned out to be a captivating tale which blends the contemporary with Japanese mythology in a unique story of gods, romance, and ink that has a life of its own.
Katie feels like an outsider in her new life in Japan, where she moved to live with her aunt following her mother’s death. She barely speaks the language, and a series of freakish incidents involving the standoffish bad-boy Tomohiro Yuuto don’t help her to feel settled. Around him, ink seems to come to life, and seemingly lifeless paper creations attack her. Desperate for answers, she finally learns the truth: he’s a Kami, descended from the original gods of Japan - and has a dangerous power many want to possess.
I really like Katie as a protagonist - her efforts to fit in despite having lost everything familiar to her make her easy to relate to. I did find some of her reactions to Tomo in the beginning a bit frustrating and there were echoes of other teen romance novels, but thankfully the unique mythological element and insight into Japanese culture more than made up for this. It’s clear that Amanda Sun has really researched the culture and setting and this makes for a more immersive reading experience. The plot is at first slow to unfold but the intriguing twists kept me turning the pages. All in all, this is a great debut and a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese culture, or just looking for a new contemporary fantasy book.