Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.
Author website: https://www.kylieleebaker.com/
Julie Kagawa meets Scythe in this captivating and evocative journey into Death’s domain as one soul collector seeks her place in the underworld of 1890s Japan. Book 1 of a planned duology.
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough yearns for the acceptance she has never found among the Reapers who raised her. When the Shinigami powers she can no longer hide force her to flee for her life, Ren and her younger brother—the only being on earth to care for her—travel to Japan and the dark underworld of Yomi, where Ren hopes to claim her place among the Shinigami and finally belong.
But the Goddess of Death is no more welcoming than the Reapers who raised her, and Ren finds herself set on an impossible task—find and kill three yokai demons, and maybe, just maybe, she can earn a place in Death’s service. With only her brother and an untrustworthy new ally by her side, Ren will learn how far she’ll go to win the acceptance she craves, and whether the cost of belonging is worth any sacrifice.
Porter Square Books: https://www.portersquarebooks.com/signed/signed-keeper-night-hardcover
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335405661
Ren is a girl of two worlds. Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami she lives in London never quite fitting in constantly aware that she will never become a full Reaper, with only her half brother for company. But then something happens, Ren looses control and shows powers that, as a Reaper, she should not have access to. Forced to run she heads to the one place she feels might just accept her. Only when she gets to Japan, she is still treated as a foreigner. Determined to prove her worth and right as a Shinigami, Ren accepts a task from the Goddess of Death to kill three Yokai Demons. Along with her brother and guide Hiro, Ren will need to decide exactly how far she will go to earn the acceptance she craves, and who she is willing to hurt to achieve it.
Ren wants so desperately to fit in, but that need causes her to make some dubious decisions. At the start of the book I really felt for her, a girl from two worlds who somehow never fits into either, but as the book went on she became almost entitled, determined to become a Shinigami, and with that determination came blinders to the seriously dodgy situation she was in. She is incredibly strong and resilient, something she has had to learn due to her treatment from the other Reapers, but once that turned to entitlement I found myself loosing my connection with her, and just got angry at the silly decisions she was making.
The two main characters that follow Ren on her journey are her half brother Neven, and Hiro the boy that first helps her when she enters Yomi, the land of the dead. Neven was loyal to Ren to a fault, the only person who stuck with her in London, even if it made him somewhat of a pariah. He’s too soft to be a Reaper, and escapes with Ren hoping for something better in life, but the more time she spends in Japan, and with Hiro, the more he can see her actions becoming more erratic. Hiro rescued Ren when she first entered Yomi and takes it upon himself to become her guide in this country that is so foreign to her. But he has motives of his own, ones that Ren thinks she knows, and she finds herself trusting him without knowing who he really is.
If you enjoy stories steeped in Japanese mythology then look no further. Baker really focuses on the darker side of the mythology, with the tales of dangerous Yokai (demons) and she uses these to create a brilliantly rendered world. As well as following Ren on her journey to become a Shinigami, we get little tales throw in about the different Yokai she meets along the way/ is sent to murder, each slightly gorier and dark than the last. The stories are definitely not for those faint of heart, but it all adds to the atmosphere of the story making it dark and creepy in equal measure.
The story starts off fairly slowly with Ren’s time in London, but once she leaves the life of a Reaper and journey’s to Japan the pace seriously picks up. I did find some events towards the end of the book a little ‘too’ quick, and felt that more time could have been spent on them for us to better understand the chain of events, and Ren’s reasoning behind her actions. There are plenty of plot twists thrown in, but for me they were either predictable or just completely out of the blue, and went against the ideals of the characters themselves. The book certainly ends on a cliff-hanger, one that I definitely did not see happening, but has ensured that I want to pick up the final book in the duology.
Keeper of the Night is perfect for fans of unapologetically morally grey characters, epic journeys and battles, and stories steeped in dark mythology. Though there were some parts that let this story down for me, the almost insta-love relationship and Ren’s bizarre decision making towards the end, I definitely enjoyed it as a whole and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the final instalment.