The Underworld makes another bid for control of Mio’s mystical sword.
In this sequel to The Name of the Blade (2014), Mio and her friends are still celebrating their defeat of the Nekomata with their allies in the Kitsune Kingdom when they are attacked again. This time their enemy’s tools are the Shikome, the “Foul Women,” whose feathers carry a deadly contagion. The gang is ill-prepared to handle the Shikome since they are still coping with the fallout from their first adventure. Mio’s connection with her dangerous katana is growing ever more seductive and powerful, while Rachel is discovering that her abduction by the Nekomata has left her terribly changed. Select third-person passages from other characters’ perspectives are interspersed throughout Mio’s first-person narration, and they emphasize how completely the Shikome plague overwhelms London. The too-tidy ending consequently feels like a cop-out, despite the setup provided for the inevitable third book in the series. Nonetheless, the intense fight scenes and doomed romance will still appeal to many readers, especially if they’re inclined to appreciate Marriott’s obvious manga influences and willing to overlook generally shallow characterization. At least one major plot twist will immediately remind savvy fans of a similar storyline in Tite Kubo’s Bleach.
Save this action-packed but derivative adventure for die-hard shonen manga buffs. (Urban fantasy. 13-16)