Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
Ren Scarborough was tired of living under the tyrannical rule of the British Reapers. Although she is half Reaper, she is also half Japanese Shinigami and has been tortured by others because of her heritage. Like the other Reapers, she collects souls for Death, but secretly wishes to travel from London to Japan, where she will be accepted regardless of her background. Ren has no choice but to pursue an act of brutality, to reveal her forbidden Shinigami abilities, taking her beloved stepbrother Neven with him. Ren enters the Japanese underworld of Yomi to serve the Goddess of Death upon his arrival in Japan. The goddess, on the other hand, has other ideas for Ren and demands that she show her worth.
I was delighted to be able to read so early. I was worried at first because it took me about 20% of the way to fully immerse myself in it, and in the first few chapters there was an amazing amount of information about Ren’s world. Obviously it needs to be clarified, but I felt that too much information was given at once, which made me embarrassed and overwhelmed. But when Ren comes to Japan, the story begins quickly and becomes something I can really immerse myself in.
Don’t be fooled by the slow starts: this book is full of intriguing, in-depth explorations of Japanese spirits, gods, and Yomi’s ever-dark underworld. Baker’s description of the underworld with shadows, terrifying ghosts and a community of spirits is especially touching. Not only was it different from any other novel I’d ever read, but it was incredibly intriguing in its depiction of Ren’s character. Look no further if you’re looking for a detailed, morally gray female character.
In my opinion, the ending of this book sets it apart from others in its genre. Ren doesn’t run from the dark or try to defend or justify what she is doing (despite the fact that she remains curious and very likeable in everything). This book has some downsides like pace, but they don’t detract from the fascinating storyline that will have you pleading for more.
I’m already rereading this and annotating as I go because I just loved it so much. Highly recommend for spooky/Halloween season or if, like me, you’re just a big fan of death.
About the Author
Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her work is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, & Irish) as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a BA in creative writing and Spanish from Emory University and is pursuing a master of library and information science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she plays the cello, watches horror movies, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.