I’ve been putting off writing this review for days, because I just don’t know how to write it. How do you write a review of a book you found so amazing, so beautiful, so great it reminded you of your love for reading? Stormdancer is one of those books for me, a book that had just everything I love! So now I don’t know if I should fangirl, write every second word in all caps, or try to write a proper review and explain why this book is one of my favorites..I choose the latter.
Stormdancer is a fantastical blend of Steampunk and Dystopia, two of my favorite genres, set in a Japanese-like country, Shima. It also has a fair share of mythological beings, with one particular griffin (half eagle and half tiger) Buruu. You probably know how much I also love dragons. Well, after reading Stormdancer I’m a big fan of griffins and can say they’re easily just as awesome as dragons.
The worldbuilding was amazing, rich in details and so vividly presented. Shima is a land destroyed by a toxic plant Red Lotus, which is a raw material used for fuel that powers just about everything: factories, flying ships, machines.. The air is poisoned and the rich people need to use some weird breathing masks. Normal people have just regular normal cloths around their mouths, with goggles on their eyes because the Sun is so blinding. The whole sky is red and polluted by this lotus. Reigning over the land is Shogun, a cruel, spoiled young king, who just wakes up one morning and decides he wants to have a griffin. That’s where Yukiko and her father, the chief hunter, come into the game.
The characters were all amazing, well-developed and so realistic. Yukiko is one of my favorite heroines of all time and I could even say my latest girl crush. I loved her from the very beginning when we get to know her life story and her complicated relationship with her father that often moved me to tears. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to your parents like that, but also to admit when you realize you’ve been wrong. Buruu the griffin was another great character, he was so wise and thoughtful, and he often struck so close to home with his words. The dialogue between him and Yukiko was often sad but sometimes very funny too. There’s a lot of secondary characters that were just as great, along with some really badass female characters. I’m so happy to say that there wasn’t much romance, it was very refreshing. I don’t have to point out how much I cried throughout this book, do I? The characters and their words, the writing style, everything made me care so much. Stormdancer was deep, beautiful and heart-aching.
I was so afraid to read in the end, because there were some really surprising twists and I was so nervous I could hardly breathe. The author certainly isn’t afraid of killing off some characters, so I was terrified of what’s going to happen. Not many authors/books managed to make me feel this way.
The only thing that was hard to get through was the beginning. I was reading the first 10% or so for like 2 hours, because it was a lot to take in, a whole new world with a lot of japanese words. I can imagine many readers would give up on the book because of all info-dumping, but it was so worth it to get past that point. By now I already learned that books like Stormdancer, which demand some extra effort in the beginning, turn out to be the best books in the end.
Well, this has turned out to be a long review, and I could really just keep going, but I’m starting to get worried nobody will want to read this. So I should just say I highly recommend this book to every fantasy reader out there. There’s some mature content and because of the very descriptive and more demanding writing style, I’d recommend it to older teenagers or adults. I have no doubt Stormdancer will be one of the beast reads of 2014, hopefully along with Kinslayer, which I can’t wait to start reading.