reviews

The Keeper of Night (The Keeper of Night #1) by Kylie Lee Baker - Book Review

Write on: Tue, 02 Nov 2021 by  in Natasha's Reviews Read 141

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren has lived over a century in London collecting human souls. She’s despised by her fellow Reapers for her heritage and denounced by her father, with only her younger brother by her side. When her Shinigami powers grow difficult to control, she flees to Japan, hoping to find her mother and the acceptance she’s never had. But the Japanese underworld is dangerous and unfamiliar, and The Goddess of Death is not eager to accept her as one of her own.

I knew going into it that The Keeper of Night was darker than your typical YA and a perfect read for this time of year. It turned out to be even creepier than I expected, delivering an often oppressive atmosphere and terrifying monsters pulled from Japanese mythology. The fact-paced and suspenseful plot kept me turning the page to find out which of my theories were correct and explore more of this world.

I’m not always a fan of what people call beautiful or atmospheric writing, but Kylie Lee Baker’s prose stood out to me as gripping and able to elicit vivid imagery. I should take a moment to note here that I listened to the audiobook, and Rebecca Yeo is one of my favorite narrators I’ve ever listened to. Not only did they masterfully deliver Baker’s prose and the characters' emotions, but kept the voice for each character distinct without being hard to understand even when listening at 2x speed.

Though I know some will disagree with me, I loved Ren as a main character. She’s selfish and bitter towards anyone but her brother (and sometimes even him), but with good reason. As a nonhuman biracial character (written by a biracial author), Ren is constantly struggling with her identity, willing to do whatever is necessary to find the acceptance she craves. I found her to be well-realized and a refreshing break from “morally grey” characters who are mostly just made up of edgy quips.

Another way in which this story examines family and identity is through the relationship between Ren and her brother Neven. He’s almost the opposite of Ren, empathetic towards any living creature and considered by most as too soft to be a true Reaper. Though they don’t always see eye to eye (far from it), Ren will do anything to protect Neven, but, as siblings often do, she’s the one hurting him more often than not. Their differing reactions to entering this unknown world, and the strife that it creates between them, is a compelling part of the narrative.

Though I loved the entire book, what really made The Keeper of Night stand out to me was the ending. There are several twists, the first of which I had reason to guess at, but after that I was entirely blown away. All of Ren’s decisions have consequences, and the ending tracked well with the rest of the book in a way that I found incredibly satisfying. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the second and final book in this duology.

Even if you’re not a fan of most YA fantasy, I’d recommend giving this one a try, assuming the concept sounds interesting to you and you don’t mind a main character who has the tendency to be selfish and cruel. If you do decide to pick it up, the audiobook is an excellent choice.

 

Last modified on Monday, 22 November 2021 22:46
Natasha

Natasha's passion for reading was kindled by her parents and the local library that allowed her family to checkout 50 books at a time. She first fell in love with fantasy through Arthurian retellings whereas her love for science fiction began with Star Wars novels. Nowadays, she still spends her free time reading but also gaming, running a blog (natrosette), and obsessing over TV shows. Maybe if she spent as much time reading as she does looking for books to read, she'd actually make a dent in her TBR.