Youmans’s ninth installment in The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy series is an exciting adventure that hits the spot for fans of lush historical fantasy. Eastern Dragon Princess Otohime needs help resettling refugees displaced by the failed Satsuma Rebellion. Azuki knows her patterns can be used for fabric designs, but they need new spinning machines if they want to operate at a bigger level. Meanwhile, Oni is in trouble, and she calls on Azuki for help. Can Azuki and her friends find a way to help Oni? The novel has an inventive structure: the story is multilayered, if at times overdone–the dual-natured protagonists can apparently do just about anything–but the book is redeemed by its intelligent writing and deeply atmospheric setting. Youmans’s vivid descriptions of the Meiji era Japan are almost as much fun as the scenes depicting the playful banter between her dual-natured protagonists and the portrayal of their magical abilities. The narrative is infused with various characters’ backstories, which can be exhausting, but given the story’s scope, it seems necessary. As intricate the story seems, Youmans manages to hold all the threads together while offering a healthy number of conflicts. The book is cinematic in its scope and execution, making it ideal for the big screen adaptation. Historical lovers who like their stories with a heavy dose of myth and fantasy will be greatly charmed.
Categories: historical fiction