{Blog Tour Stop Review} STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

Check out all of the amazing blogs participating in the blog tour for
Jay Kristoff's intriguing Japanese Steampunk novel STORMDANCER!

With STORMDANCER releasing in the UK and Australia yesterday, September 13th and in the USA next Tuesday, September 18th, Jay Kristoff's blog tour is in full swing and I'm delighted to be taking part.  STORMDANCER is one of my highly anticipated books of Fall 2012 because it is Japanese Steampunk.  Need we say more?

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

AS THE IRON WAR CLUB SCYTHED TOWARD HER HEAD, Yukiko couldn't help wishing she'd listened to her father.

She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni's shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.  The demon loomed above her, twelve feet high, all iron-tipped tusks and long, jagged fingernails.  Stinking of open graves and burning hair, skin of polished midnight blue, eyes like funeral candles bathing the forest with guttering light.  The club in its hands was twice as long as Yukiko was tall.  One direct hit, and she would never see the samurai with the sea-green eyes again.
(Page 3, US E-ARC edition)

When I heard there was a fantasy novel on the horizon with a Japanese flair, I immediately wanted to read it.  Having lived in Japan for two years, I still have fond memories of the country and its rich history.  I'm new to the steampunk genre, but always willing to try something new, so when I heard that not only was Jay Kristoff's STORMDANCER going to be Japanese, but Japanese steampunk, I was even more intrigued.

The promise of Japanese steampunk wasn't a ruse to bring in readers, either.  From the first page, the world is steeped in Japanese history.  There are oni (demons) and samurai and geisha.  There is mythology and lore that will make you wonder what is based on research and what is out of Kristoff's own imagination.  While there is a lot of Japanese terminology floating about, Kristoff is good about making sure that readers are never left in the dark.  He'll use the word "tora" in one sentence, then let you know he means "tiger" in the next.  Due to all of the Japanese and Kristoff's flair for describing everything in miniscule detail, there is a lot of intense world-building in the first chunk of the book.  At first, it was hard to fall into the world, because there was so much new, shiny stuff around each corner, but once the arashitora ("thunder tiger") is introduced into the mix, the story begins evolving and is easy to fall into.  Seen through the eyes of Yukiko, a sixteen-year-old from the Kitsune ("Fox") clan, we're introduced to everything through female eyes, which is intriguing because such adventures and heroic destinies are usually left for the males to undertake.  I love that Kristoff went with a strong female heroine when introducing us to his world.  (See more on his world over at Jay Kristoff's website!)

An arashitora, or thunder tiger, is part griffin, part tiger.
The steampunk serves more as a background than it does a centerpiece in STORMDANCER, and is in fact reminiscent of the mecha so ingrained in Japanese culture.  The Japanese are always so technologically-savvy that it makes sense that they'd adopt a steampunk culture first in order to adapt in a dying world while still retaining their unique culture and history.  The story between Yukiko and the arashitora, or thunder tiger, an intelligent beast that's part griffin, part tiger, and the way they communicate and become one is epic.  I liked the way Kristoff detailed their interactions; you could always tell who was talking when, and were never confused.  There are also looks at family and the price of loyalty.  Combined with the lore of mythic Japanese roots and a new, grittier version of Japan, STORMDANCER is a unique, innovative foray into both fantasy and steampunk.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love both versions of this cover and have a tough time choosing which I like more.  The UK/Australian cover is very traditionally Japanese, while the US cover showcases Yukiko's fabulous tattoo (an integral element of the novel) and showcases the arashitora.  Plus, it's by Jason Chan, who is one of my favorite cover designers.  So there's that.

I don't know about the UK/Australian interior, but the US version is gorgeous.  Each chapter features an image of a lotus or one of the four clans, which I really enjoyed seeing.  Paired with a very Japanese-looking font, the chapter headings alone were a constant reminder that this book takes place in a very Japanese world.

I'm also a fan of the way the three segments of the novel are broken up.  With each title, there is kanji (the Japanese spelling of the same word) behind it.  Gorgeous!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: Out September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Received: Review Copy

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.


  1. OOOOOHHH!!!! an interview with Jason Chan!?!?!?! YAY!!!!
    this book is everywhere lately, it certainly sounds interesting. :)

  2. I'm very interested in this book. Like you I prefer the US cover it rocks!


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