Congratulations to Maki Morris on the release of her novel.
River Demon is the story of two very different sisters on a quest to save their parents from a curse. On the first night of their journey they fall foul of a river demon and must escape before the sun rises.
It was a good story with a good pace. I felt the book go by very quickly, though in a good way. There were no slow bits.
The text had a few spelling mistakes in it, but not enough to be a distraction.
What I did find a little distracting was the unsubtle over-emphasis on the role of women in feudal Japanese society. OK, OK, ‘second-class citizens’, ‘seen but not heard’ – we get it already. Stop beating us over the head with it.
This lack of subtlety carries over into how the characters are drawn. One sister is too hysterical, the other is too cold and bitchy, one of the guys is too unbending and outraged. These characteristics do mellow over the course of the book as the characters develop, but at the start I couldn’t really believe in any of them.
Another thing I didn’t believe in was the clandestine romance between two of the high-born characters. The girl is too strict about propriety to risk dishonouring her family by going to her marriage not a virgin or with her virtue in question.
Some parts of this book were unclear or unexplained, but I could tell that they were being set up to be explained in later books.
This novel was very well set up to be the first episode in a series of adventures. There is an over-arcing quest that is the journey and the curse to be lifted. There are also individual obstacles to be overcome at each stage of the journey.
Much as I enjoyed this book I probably wouldn’t try the next in the series; I found none of the characters to be particularly deep or likable.
Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5.