In order to save her family’s shrine—and the world—Kira must assemble an unpredictable band of death gods to stand against a demon.
Kira Fujikawa can see yokai, the demons that walk the streets of Japan, sometimes causing trouble and sometimes preoccupied with the problems of their own world. Because of this ability, her grandfather has trained her as a Shinto shrine maiden, tasked with removing evil from the world and with one day taking over the family’s shrine. When a yokai raid leaves the shrine destroyed, Kira learns of a plot to resurrect an ogre king bent on defeating the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, and plunging the world into darkness. With the help of the shrine’s guardian, Shiro, Kira embarks on a quest to assemble a band of shinigami, death gods who collect the spirts of the dead. Loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, all characters are Japanese, and Alameda (Pitch Dark, 2018, etc.) and Maetani (Ink and Ashes, 2015) have taken care to present Shinto as a living religion with modern-day practitioners while still building a lively supernatural world. Though more time spent developing the ensemble cast’s interesting backstories would have benefitted the overall narrative, Kira is a satisfying heroine, and her personal struggles between familial expectations and loyalty to the family shrine add complexity to her journey.
Fresh urban fantasy grounded in Japanese culture. (authors’ note, glossary) (Fantasy. 12-18)