Red Winter was the first book of Annette Marie. It picked my interest because the blurb promised me yokai (earth-bound spirit) and that is something I can’t not read. The cover is also gorgeous!
“In a few short months, Emi’s mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.
Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.
On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.” (source: Goodreads)
I’m a big fan of amine and Inuyasha and I was instantly reminded of it when I read the blurb. It was not like Inuyasha at all, but it did not disappoint me. In fact, I think this is one of the best books I have read this year! I devoured this one in a couple of days.
The writing was great. It kept me interested, filled the main character Emi with life and ensured an exciting journey. I loved the characters, even those who were on the sidelines most of the time. They were all well-developed, served a purpose in the story and made me laugh, roll my eyes at their antics and felt their concern. Above all, I felt that all the characters were extremely realistic. Shiro and Emi are my favourite characters of course, but I also enjoyed another character which is introduced a little later.
Since I study Japanese culture and language at my university, I am also familiar with religions of Japan and I was really impressed how well everything was described. Not only the attitudes of younger people towards religions, but also internal procedures and mentalities. Many people don’t care for religion as much, but there are certain things in Japanese culture that probably won’t change for the decades to come. Honor and respect, contributing to greater good rather than looking for yourself and other major cultural differences compared to our “western world” were depicted very well.
The book actually included 10 full-page illustrations by artist Brittany Jackson. Her work is just amazing! The illustrations were beautiful and captured the atmosphere of those scenes like only a picture can. ❤
There were some plot twists and none of them were expected. Red Winter really kept me on my toes and I was honestly disappointed when I realized that I was already on the last page 😦 But the second part Dark Tempest will be released in the beginning of January so there ist still hope.
The only thing I think might me problematic for some readers are that Marie actually uses Japanese names for things. There is a glossary and a pronunciation guide which is really helpful if you’re not sure. So keep that in mind when reading the book. I didn’t have any problems with the Japanese words, but I know people who wouldn’t like to have to check everything. So make sure you keep that in mind.
If you want to read an exciting read with spirits of all kind, some adventure and romance and want to get a glimpse of Japan, then go ahead and start reading TODAY. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did!