Red Winter (Red Winter Trilogy #1) by Annette Marie
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”
Ten years ago Emi was marked by Amaterasu to be the vessel as her human host to inhabit. Since then she has been preparing her body and soul for the moment that the kami will join with her. One day she finds out a secret that unravels everything she was led to believe. With the help of her natural enemy, a yokai, she decide to get the truth about the impending ritual and what it means for her life.
Guys this was so good. At first I was a little skeptical. I originally started this because Sana & Tweebs were all gaga for this book, but my initial reaction was this is pretty good…but boring. My dear friend Amanda got the book though, and she’s a ridiculously fast reader and blasted through the series and insisted I continued on. I trusted her enough to do it and thank fully I did. Seriously, I was enraptured by the world building and visual aids in the book, but nothing really happens till 75 pages into the book. From that point on it was rather exciting as Emi discovered more about herself and what it means to be a kamigakari. I don’t want to give away too much about this book but let me just say that if you are a fan of manga/anime that involves yokai, then you need to read this book. Seriously, the Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita vibes are strong, but not in a rip-off sort of way.
I don’t normally say this, but I ship the characters SO hard even though the romance is very minimal. The story itself focuses mostly around Emi and her inner struggle as she ultimately decides if what she has been working for her entire life is worth the sacrifice. In the midst of her self discovery, she makes some new…allies and together they uncover a secret that connects them in ways they didn’t imagine.
The World Building
So a lot of you probably don’t know this about me. But I am what one might consider a Japanophile. I am a big fan of anime/manga (though haven’t really kept up recently). I studied Japanese and spent a few months over there studying culture. In fact, it’s been exactly 5 years since I went, and I miss it dearly. (Clearly this is a picture of me getting to wear a traditional kimono while I was there)
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I really enjoyed the Japanese infusion in these books. There are so many cultural aspects that are accurately (at least to my knowledge) used here, and only a great deal of research or knowledge could have brought this all together. As a fan, I greatly appreciated it all. Again, if you are someone who is a fan of manga/anime surrounding yokai, you will probably really get a kick out of this.
For those on the less obsessive scale, the book provides a glossary in the back with not only help pronouncing the (real) Japanese words, but also with definitions for them. On top of that the writing was so visually stunning, while I was reading I almost wanted to close my eyes in escape into my memories of my visits to the shrines.
One of the extra awesome parts of this book were the visual aids. The book has beautiful pictures!
Art is provided by Brittany Jackson and she is super talented. The book isn’t overrun by the pictures. It really just adds the extra dash of pizzazz to the book and it is just extra special for it.
This has some of my favorite things. I mean, strong female character paired with a snarky kitsune? Be still my beating heart! I. JUST. CANT. I love them so much.
Emi-She’s so sweet and innocent at the beginning and I was like, look at this little prim and proper princess, live a little. Boy, does she live a little. I mean, she doesn’t go all buck wild..but she might as well have all things considering. Her responses to some of her first experiences are so cute, like not knowing how to hold a freaking hamburger (Just for your reading sake, I am say that as “ham bah gah” like I would if I was speaking Japanese and I am giggling to myself as I write this). Anyway, despite her lack of her experience in life she is so eager to be more than just a vassal, and I love her for admitting to herself that she didn’t even have a personality because of her preparation. Like yay, you’re special without having to be some amazing snow-flake. What’s so great about her though? She’s compassionate to her enemies and brave and tough despite her lack of fighting experience.
Shiro- You know how people have got it bad for sparkling vampires, werewolves, fae of the night court? Well I have it bad for kitsune. I blame the manga/anime Kamisama Hajimemashita . (excuse me if I disappear to binge watch it all over again)
Shiro is so cute with in his vulnerable state with his lack of power (and multiple wounds, poor guy!) I loved how much he intentionally just wanted to get on Emi’s nerves by saying things to make her blush. He may be sneaky, but he is still loyal to a fault and very protective. I just adore him.
I love Yumei too, but let me just say I am a sucker for those fox ears. I can’t wait to see what this Miko and her yokai friends get into in the next book!
宇野実彩子 – どうして恋してこんな (Misako Uno – Doushite Koi Shite Konna)