Jun 24, 2016

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword 1)

Cover of Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler


book review rating 3 out of 5

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is K...continue at Goodreads

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IT WAS ODDLY nostalgic reading Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler. The vivid portrayal of the Japanese culture brought back many fond memories of my childhood, a time when I was much more rooted in my Asian heritage.

Kano Murasaki, nicknamed Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl with a gift for climbing. Her unique talent catches the eye of Lady Chiyome, Head Mistress of a remote school in Mount Fuji. Risuko soon finds herself torn from her family and swept into a school that is much more than what it seems. Here, Risuko and orphans Emi and Toumi, are taught the ways of a Kunoichi—the Japanese art of becoming an assassin—in the hopes of possibly changing the outcome of a feudal Japan.

I’m drawn to Risuko and the young orphans for their misfortunes. Though complete strangers, they share a great responsibility to restore the honor to each of their family's name and legacy. But, I had difficulty seeing how they would achieve that. Emi is quiet and wears a perpetual frown, Toumi is often angry, or "growling [and] clenching her fist." Risuko is my favorite of the orphans for she is more resilient, curious and compassionate. Even so, the characters were simple, even childish at time, and fell a bit flat for me.

I enjoyed the older, secondary characters. Mr. Kudler poignantly and effortlessly captured the quiet and unspoken deadly art of an assassin through Meiko. As one of the highly trained assassins, and instructor to Risuko, she is as formidable in her ability to kill from the shadows, as she is gentle and feminine...beautiful.

The pacing was slow, with thorough attention dedicated to the culture: food (Korean, actually, but still mouthwatering), custom, and philosophy. With my rudimentary knowledge of ancient Japan, Mr. Kudler introduced the culture in such a way that felt authentic by capturing my baseline knowledge, yet still affording me with plenty of beautiful eye-opening moments.

I didn’t realize this was a series since I received my ARC very early on. I’m really glad that Risuko’s story continues because the ending felt rushed with too many secrets revealed quickly and unexpectedly. Where Mr. Kudler meticulously paints a luscious portrait of a war stricken Japan and its culture, I did not feel that the same amount of detail was dedicated to the plot twists and climax. Nevertheless, reading this story has been an enriching journey in understanding the ways of a Kunoichi, and I look forward to reading Seasons of the Sword 2.

{ I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, especially to the author and publisher, for kindly giving me an opportunity to review this title. }

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