Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending my a physical ARC of this amazing book!
Kylie Lee Baker’s The Keeper of Night is a story of finding where you belong and learning that no one can tell you what you are except for yourself. Ren is a mixed raced Reaper-Shinigami living in London where she is belittled and bullied for her heritage by everyone, including her father and step-mother. Her only friend is her overly gentle half-brother, Neven, and after Ren loses control of her untrained Shinigami abilities while fighting against her bullies, the two hurry away to Japan so Ren can find a place where she could truly belong. Of course, the culture shock is more than either of them expected and it takes lowly fishing god to show them the ropes as Ren begins her journey to being a true Shinigami.
Dripping with the lush vibrancy of Japanese mythology, I loved the winding route this novel went in. It kept a steady pace and the transition from Ren being in London to Ren being in Japan was smooth and even managed to avoid the “travelling slump” that I find can slow things down considerably in books like this. I liked Ren instantly really empathised with the identity struggles she went through. While I will never understand her specific struggles with racial identity, being a trans person I’ve definitely dealt with the issue of only being seen as part of who I am. Her anger and frustration is such a valid expression of emotion and Neven being her brother but not understanding her struggles created an excellent commentary displaying how there isn’t another side when people of colour voice a point about the racism they have dealt with.
I adore so much about Japanese myths and legends and folklore, so I absolutely adored how Baker showed us the even darker sides of some of the already dark stories. It was such an original novel and when it came to last 50 or so pages, I was losing my mind over the intensity of everything that was happening. I thought I knew where things were going, but oh boy I had no idea at all. Available as of tomorrow, I highly recommend picking up this amazing novel. And then join me in my wait for the second book that will conclude this duology.