the keeper of night – kylie lee baker | blog tour + arc review

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker


Series: The Keeper of Night #1
Expected publication: October 12th 2021 by Inkyard Press
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Representation: Half-Japanese MC, Japanese SCs

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis:

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.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

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Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tour for choosing me as one of the participants in the #TheKeeperofNight tour. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in the other tour stops, check out the schedule!

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trigger and content warnings:
  • death (on-page + discussed frequently), racism, sexism (brief), ableism, bullying, emotional neglect of a child, mentions of child abandonment, violence, murder, blood, gore. This book is primarily fantasy but does have some horror elements. And because I see this question come up a lot for upper YA books: sexual content is implied but there are no on-page sex scenes.
  • taken from kylie lee baker’s goodreads

For centuries, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls for the British Reapers. Despite her contribution, she has never belonged and was truly accepted by them. An unforgivable mistake forced her to escape to Japan, where she hoped to become a part of the Shinigami, the country’s version of Reapers. Ren’s soft-hearted step-brother followed her out of Britain as well. He wasn’t cut out for the life of a Reaper and rather be tinkering with his gears. His unconditional support and love helped Ren through tough times. However, this trip created a rift between the siblings that seemed to constantly widen.

Each country collects souls differently. In Britain, every Reaper owns a clock that allows them to stop time. Each second that they use will be siphoned from their own lifespans by Ankou, their Death. Unlike the Reapers, Shinigami controls light. The way they extract the souls is pretty gruesome too. Before reading The Keeper of Night, I never knew how haunting and terrifying Japanese folklore regarding the realm of the dead and the Yokai are. We were first introduced to Jorogumo, a spider woman who likes the taste of man’s flesh. Each of the Yokai that Ren is tasked to kill is scarier than the next.

The first person Ren met when she ventured into the realm of the dead in Japan was an ex-Shinigami. While Neven was always suspicious of Hiro’s motives, Ren brushed off his concerns as being too cautious and sensitive. The dynamic between Ren and Hiro was fascinating to read about because Kylie Lee Baker is consistently dropping in hints alluding to how things might just go awry quickly. Indeed, this relationship went in a direction, though predictable, that was incredibly dark and twisty.

Ren’s desire to belong and be accepted motivates her to do things without questioning the motive behind the tasks. Her dynamic with her brother started off really sweet but cracks soon started showing. When Neven voiced his worries, Ren’s insecurities about her being biracial resurfaced. She assumed that Neven was trying to stop her from “truly belonging as a Shinigami.” Regardless, her character was compelling.

Kylie Lee Baker is a brilliant storyteller. The Japanese folklore in The Keeper of Night was gruesome and dark yet I couldn’t stop wanting to know more about the various bloodthirsty Yokai. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the lore of the Reapers and Shinigami. I need book two so desperately! The ending tore my heart out. I’m not even sure what will happen from now on.

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author information

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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