Red Winter by Annette Marie

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. 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 yokai, a spirit of the earth, 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.

Release date: Out Now

I’ve been on a reading kick lately – not that you would be able to tell by the amount of reviews posted lately. Sorry! But this book is one that had caught my interest a while ago but like the person that I am I had to ensure that I had enough time to binge the three books in the series if i wanted to – and I did.

Emi is 18 years old and awaiting the day that she will become the human host for a Goddess. Although fairly naive about the world as a whole, Emi has a steadfast faith in her beliefs even if they go against what she has been taught. What struck me as I begun reading is how accessible this book is to people who may not have any understanding of Japanese culture. Annette Marie has ensured that this book is beautifully detailed while maintaining that delicate balance of ensuring that the reader can gain a true understanding of the nuances that exist between character interactions.

Shiro is a fox yokai who has no recollection of his distant past. Shiro helps Emi discover that not everything she has been told is necessarily true. He exposes Emi to a wider world where not all yokai are completely evil and this coupled with his mythological nature provides the perfect coupling with Emi in a yin and yang like fashion. They, throughout the novel, compliment each others personalities and push each other further.

There is a huge amount of world-building throughout this book and this for some may appear daunting but it is so organically done, that it isn’t a chore to read through. There are elements of intrigue and romance and although the plot takes a little bit of time to get going, once it is running it never stops which provides a wonderful un-put-downable read. Did i mention there are illustrations spaced throughout.

Illustrations by Brittany Jackson

Overall this books was a stunning read which introduces people to far-eastern mythologies and religions in a way that while simplifying, includes enough details to fully flesh it out. This book is perfect for people who enjoy the mange/anime Kamisama Hajimemashita. Past the first book, the whole series is beautifully written and worth sinking into another world for a few days.

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