Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
This is a unique fantasy that is seeped in Japanese mythology. We follow Ren, a half British reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. Ren has gotten on somewhat peacefully in Britain for the last two centuries but when she loses control of her Shinigami powers she is forced to leave, along with her half brother, Neven. Ren and Neven make their way to Japan so Ren can finally claim her Shinigami powers and hopefully be reunited with the mother she has never known. The Japanese Goddess of Death agrees to let Ren become a full Shinigami if she completes the task of finding and killing three Yokai demons.
The Japanese myths that center this story were my favorite part. I loved learning about the different legends and characters that Baker introduced throughout her story. I was pleasantly surprised by the horror aspects that were in this book. Obviously a complete novice to Japanese mythology but I’m assuming that is a common occurrence in the lore. Another aspect of the story that I loved was Baker’s atmospheric and beautiful writing. I highlighted so many lines in my Kindle because I was so blown away with the elegant way she writes.
As intriguing as I found the story and as stunning as I found Baker’s writing I did find that the plot slowly started unraveling the more we got into it. I found the beginning to be instantly attention grabbing but unfortunately, for me, that was the strongest part. I still enjoyed the bulk of the story despite it’s many flaws. Ren is supposed to be a morally grey character and Neven takes on the role of the white knight but I found both of these personality traits underdeveloped.
I thought this book was ending at the perfect moment but then it kept going. And then I again thought that we had come to a satisfying conclusion but no the story continued. The end also had major pacing issues. It was obvious that Baker wanted to stop at a certain point but she should have added another 100 pages or so and told a more complete story. Or, what I would have preferred, saved some of what happened at the end for the sequel.
I would still recommend this book for the incredible way Baker weaves in Japanese folklore with stories of reapers and the dead. This is Baker’s debut novel and the plot coupled with her mesmerizing writing are reasons enough for me to be eagerly anticipating the sequel. If you are a fantasy reader who is looking for distinctive and compelling world building then look no further than The Keeper of the Night.
“Every step was a goodbye to a place I’d never really loved but that had made up my entire world.”
“I wouldn’t give her my story to add to her collection, because it wasn’t over yet.”