Cover Image: The Keeper of Night

The Keeper of Night

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Member Reviews

The premise of this as a dark YA fantasy steeped in Japanese mythology sounded right up my street and wow did it deliver. This is easily one of the best YA books I've read this year and I cannot believe it is a debut. 

Ren is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami and really struggling to find her place in London until she is forced to flee and ends up in Japan only to find that she doesn't exactly fit in there either. The way that Kylie Lee Baker wrote Ren's longing for acceptance and struggle with her identity as a mixed race person was incredible. 

Two other things I absolutely loved were the exploration of Japanese mythology and Ren's relationship with her brother, Neven, and really just Neven himself because he was so sweet and I think really helped balance out some of the creepier aspects of the mythology. I also really enjoyed the narrator, especially as a lot of the Japanese terms and their pronunciation were unfamiliar to me. 

There were some parts where the pacing didn't quite work for me and the insta-love was a bit hard to read in my opinion, but I finished this over a week ago and still have not fully processed all the twists in the last 20% and cannot believe I have to wait until next year for the sequel.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to listen to the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
***
Ren is half British reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. Raised by her father as a reaper she knows very little of her Shinigami side, let alone her Japanese ancestry. Bullied and belittled Ren is incredibly unhappy with her lot in life. When an incident forces her to flee her home in the UK for Japan with her half-brother/loyal companion Ren decides it’s time to see if the grass is greener on the other side. When the death goddess offers Ren a chance to become a Shinigami in exchange for exterminating three yokai for her Ren jumps at the chance to prove herself worthy of becoming a Shinigami and find her place in the world. 
Things don’t necessarily go to plan.
***
What I liked: the narrator was great, she did a good job with the story and I have no complaints about her at all. Ren is a morally gray character, I do like the chance to explore a person who is not “good.” The incorporation of Japanese folklore and mythology was interesting and fun, not many things included that I wasn’t already familiar with but it was fun to see it in the book. Neven, Ren’s brother, I adored him.

What I didn’t like: Ren. Sorry, I tried but she kept going on about how nobody respected her and with power people would have to, while conveniently forgetting she definitely never respected any of the Reapers who were like that. Or how she was an awful, selfish person and she found it disappointing that Neven couldn’t love her completely like that…. My dear sweet child, no one should. He should have run the other direction from you multiple times in this book. There was a bit of a repetitiveness in the writing too that was starting to get to me. By about the halfway mark I wasn’t really feeling this story as much anymore, and had an idea where it was going and definitely knew it was not going to be for me. 

That being said, I loved the mythology and the world this story was creating even if the story itself didn’t work out for me.
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I absolutely loved this book! I've read other books with death gods or reapers like "Scythe" but this one was so unique and different. I loved the incorporation of Japanese folklore and mythology. It was refreshingly new. I also really loved how truly morally grey most of the characters were in this and can't wait to see where it goes next after that ending!
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I love the storyline. I didn’t think he was going to be as dark as it was but I was pleasantly surprised with how dark it is. I love how the sibling realationship was portrayed. Overall I am very happy with my audiobook book. Plus having someone read to me. Helped so much when I couldn’t pick up my book.
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The audio was great for this book. I read a physical galley but wanted to taste the audiobook for the narration, and the narrator has a great way of conveying character emotion and the overall plot
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Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of this book. It was unique, dark and twisted with an ending that left me wanting the next book right away. 

The story follows a girls journey to find her place in the world. She is half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami who collects souls. 

I didn’t know much about Japanese folklore going into this book so I really enjoy. It is actually terrifying! The author paints a perfect picture of the monsters in the book. 

Overall, I found this book very well written and a chilling adventure to take!
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I'm a mythology lover in general so when I saw this had to do with Japanese Mythology, I was super excited. Needless to say, Japanese Mythology is very different than other Mythologies I've read. I have mixed feelings about this story because I felt like everything was going well and in one direction most of the book, but then the last little bit with the ending I felt a little like I was thrown for some major loops and didn't know what was happening anymore. This is also oh so creepy in parts and I'm not one that usually does well with that kind of thing in stories.
This was very well done as an audiobook and that is, in fact, I think what made the story even better for me and more creepy in those parts was because it was audio. The narrator did a stellar job with this story. She portrayed each of the characters well and their emotions. She really helped illustrate what was happening and bringing the story and the world to life.
The story is about Ren, who is half Reaper and half Shinigami, and how she tries to do her best to fit in and do her job as a Reaper in London but is picked on and tormented by others because she's not a 'true' Reaper as it were and she has a hard time with keeping her Shinigami abilities under control so, after one time where she messes up with that, she takes off leaving London. She goes to Japan to find love and acceptance that she's been deprived of her whole life and her brother, who's the one person that's loved and accepted her, goes with her. So, Ren and her brother, Neven go to meet with the Goddess of Death and Ren has to prove herself to serve the Goddess as a Shinigami by going to hunt down some Yokai demons. Ren and Neven meet Hiro who comes along with them on their journey while they go meet with the Goddess and hunt down the Yokai demons and then when Ren comes back to the Goddess is when things go wild and the end is a bit of a cliffhanger too.
If you like Japanese Mythology and aren't bothered by some creepiness then check this one out and see what you think. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Dreamscape Audio for letting me listen and review this ALC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I love the blurbs, read it, and ended up hating it. I don't like how the story turned near the end of the book. This book will be good to be standalone. Why stretch it to be a duology?

Ren, Hiro, and Neven are fucked up in their own way and they're all selfish. The adventure started good but it turned to be even bloodier and grimmer on the way. I don't think I will read the 2nd book. 
Thanks Netgalley and publisher for the copy!
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So I really enjoyed this book… up until the last 20%. The ending just went off in a whole other direction and I didn’t love it. I felt that a lot of the character that was built up with each person was just tossed aside and it didn’t really make sense for it to end this way. 

I love a good twist but this was… not it.
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I throughly enjoyed listening to this book on audio. The narration style and voice took some getting used to for me but once I got used to it I did find the narrator to fit perfectly with the characters. I have never read any type of Japanese mythology and I have to say I’m looking forward to reading more as well as continuing with this series!
I enjoyed Ren as a main character, I know many people have issues with morally grey characters but I really like an unlikeable main character in books. My main issue with not giving this book a higher rating is the pacing. I do think it took almost 75% of the book for things to pick up and I would’ve liked it to be faster paced in the beginning. Also I would’ve loved for there to be more of the British reaper, that is a plot line I think could’ve been explored more. Maybe in the second book we’ll get a better look into it!
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DNF

I liked the narrator! I feel like they did a good job with the characters, especially the main character. They really helped make the reading experience a lot more fun and I’d recommend it!

As for the story, I decided to not finish it because I was just really bored by the halfway point. I wasn’t disliking the story or plot or writing at all, I just grew uninterested in what was happening and found myself not wanting to pick the book up again.

I plan on revisiting this book eventually in the future as I think this could just be a me issue so don’t let this dissuade you from trying it out!
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I finished this book and promptly sat down to pre-order a signed copy from Porter Square books! I was thrilled to find this story, and despite problems with the audio quality on the netgalley app :( I adored the narration as well. There is great representation here that rings true; the main character is mixed-race and spends the book reconnecting with her Japanese "side" after facing exile from England, where she grew up with a beloved brother and trained as a Reaper (in Japan, she's a Shinigami - they have different abilities and traditions.) The magic system was SO much fun (Reapers in England get to stop time using special magical clocks!) and I love how Baker incorporated Japanese folklore related to death and the underworld. As someone who was obsessed with Greek mythology as a kid, I wish I had had books like this while growing up in the US!
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Dark, vivid, macabre, page-turner, plot twists, Japanese folklore.

I absolutly loved this book. Baker paints a beautifully dark and ghastly world that gripped me tight from the first chapter and didn't let go till the very last page. The story is set in the 1800s and follows Ren, a half British reaper, and half Japanese shinigami as she battles with otherness, family and belonging. 

This novel is not for the faint of heart, it’s gruesome and grotesque but also strangely beautiful and mystifying. The intricate world-building coupled with jaw-dropping twists and Ren’s encounters with Japanese folklore made this a thrilling, can’t put it down read. 

I cannot wait for the second and final book and will be recommending this, hands down. 

I listened to an advanced copy of the audiobook and the narrator, Rebecca Yeo did an immaculate job of conveying the dark world of death. 

Special thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for sharing this digital copy in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

#NetGalley #TheKeeperOfNight
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I thought the narrator, Rebecca Yeo, did a great job at voicing and giving the different characters a different voice.  At no point was I confused on which character was speaking.  I also found she did a great job at giving the book its emotions - I could tell when Ren was conflicted, hurt, or feeling loved. I highly recommend the audiobook.
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this review is going to be the same as my review for the ebook! but i loved the narrator, i listened to her narration and read along with the ebook.

this was excellent! i know its classed as a young adult story, but i'd make an argument it's just a super accessible adult fantasy. anyway, ren is such an excellent character, you can tell how much care kylie lee baker took in constructing her. can't wait to explore the world more.
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Ren Scarborough has never felt like she belonged. Even though she has been collecting souls from the London streets for over two centuries, she nevertheless feels like an outcast among the Reapers. As half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren has been treated very poorly by the other Reapers with whom she frequently needs to associate.

Because of this, the only person she has ever felt really connected to is her half-brother, Neven. When Ren has an altercation with some fellow Reapers who are bullying her, yet again, her Shinigami powers come through in a way she shouldn't have let them. Now she needs to flee to save herself.

Against her better judgement, Neven insists on going with her. Sacrificing the life he has known for a very unknown future. A sacrifice he is more than willing to make. Their destination: Japan, where Ren hopes she can learn more about her Mother and her Shinigami roots.

Arriving in Japan, Ren discovers she isn't necessarily accepted there either! It's so frustrating. She's out of place no matter where she goes. In order to try to gain acceptance at last, Ren takes on a difficult quest from the Goddess of Death. She must find and eliminate three extremely dangerous Yokai demons, each one more frightening than the last.

This novel is absolutely enchanting. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Rebecca Yeo, completely drew me into the story. I was transfixed. I immediately felt attached to Ren and Neven. Even though Ren feels out of place due to her mixed-race, Neven also feels out of place due to his general personality. He just wasn't cut out for death work. Both of them are outcasts and you can't help but feel invested in and protective of them.

After their arrival in Japan, they meet a man named Hiro. He was also extremely intriguing. A bit mysterious, is a he a rogue, or is he a charmer? I was on the fence about him, but loved having him along for the quest. It added an interesting dynamic amonst the group that would have been missing otherwise.

The quest was fast-paced, high-stakes and absolutely steeped in stunning imagery from Japanese folklore, which I generally love to read. I definitely recommend this to anyone who may be a fan of series such as Shadow of the Fox or Death Note. Also, highly recommend the audiobook as a format ot take in this story. It's really well done.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a great time reading this. It was deep, dark, haunting and heart-breaking; a stellar combination, if I do say so myself!
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This is the first book I’ve read like this. I loved it! I loved the culture background and the setting of the story line. This is a face paced book a Japanese Folklore and Ren is a reaper. It’s dark and I loved it!
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This was a really enjoyable listen! High stakes, high action, there was never a dull moment. I loved the Yokai and Japanese myths that were included. I do wish there was more time to develop the relationship and explore how being a Shinigami differs from a Reaper.
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First I wanted to thank NetGally for the ARC of this book. That being said, as always my opinions are solely my own regardless of how I came into possession of the book. Secondly this book is out today October 12, 2021 if this book sounds interesting to you I recommend you go out and get yourself a copy today!



The Keeper of Night By Kylie Lee Baker 5 Stars out of 5



The Keeper of Night is a Young Adult Historical Fantasy. The story follows Ren who is a Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami and the living hell she has to deal with living among the other British Reapers, Her father and stepmother have shunned her her whole life. She is attacked and bullied by the other reapers. As Ren Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, is returning from a night of reaping she is accosted by three other female reapers. She is knocked and pinned to the ground and threatened to have her eye gouged out with a pair of scissors. For a human that could mean death but for a reaper that just means pain and waiting for your body to reform the eye, which sounds as unpleasant as having ones eye gouged out if I am being honest.



Instead of removing her eye they cut her hair which is a point of pride for Ren. Being part Shinigami she has the ability to control light and shadows and as the three girls are laughing at what the just put her through Ren is becoming more and more angry to the point she loses control and causes a gas street lamp next to them to grow blindingly bright causing the three girls to look up in surprise and when they do the glass explodes sending shards cutting into the girls faces and wait for eyes. Can't say I would not have purposefully done that if I had her abilities.



This sets the plot into motion. She hurries back to the cemetery to turn in her souls from the night before, the low level pencil pushing twat causes her to be late which comes with a whole other set of problems. After dealing with that dirt bag she races to her home that she shares with her half brother Neven who is sweet and sensitive and loves to find out how things work and he rescues animals all of which are looked down upon.



Neven is Ren's only friend in the world, the only one who treats her kindly and actually loves her. She is packing to go on the run so she doesn't face the consequences of her actions and Neven wont let her go alone so he goes with her. Together they set off on a years-long journey from London to Japan in search of Ren’s mother and the Shinigami.



After making it to Japan Ren must prove herself in order to be considered a Shinigami and have a place for her and her brother to live. But not everything and everyone is as it seems.

I did enjoy this book a lot, I was hooked from the first chapter and I am looking forward to book 2 in the series. I did have a problem with Ren towards the end but it was more so because of her choices. But she made her bed and has to lie in it now. I hope in future books more of the mythology from both sides of Ren’s cultures is explored. I felt that the author did an amazing job portraying emotion and creating atmosphere. Her understanding of the mythos shines through on every page without being dry or lecturey. 

There are some content warnings: death (on-page + discussed frequently), racism, sexism (brief), ableism, bullying, emotional neglect of a child, mentions of child abandonment, violence, murder, blood, gore. That being said if you enjoy mythology, dark fantasy, with historical settings then I think you would love this book.
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*thank you to Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for a ALC in exchange for an honest review!*

This book was so good! It was definitely a great read for the spooky fall season.

My favorite part of the book was most definitely the world building. There's a lot of lore to digest in this book, including both information about the British Reapers, and info about the Shinigami and Japanese folklore. I never felt lost or confused; everything was thoroughly explained/addressed well. My only qualm with the world was (SPOILER) the fact that every time a Reaper stops time, that time is taken off the end of their life was mentioned in the beginning, but it was never really brought up again. I would've loved to have that have more of an effect on Ren and Neven! I loved the contrast between the world of the Reapers and the Shinigami, and the fact we got to spend time in each world, as opposed to not hearing anything about the Reaper world.

I also enjoyed the main character, Ren. She's very much a morally grey character; she is not a perfect hero, but she isn't a complete villain either. She's the type of person who will do what she can to get what she wants, even if it means crossing dangerous people to do so. Her battles with grief, her identity as a Reaper and a Shinigami, and anger are so well-done, and her thought process was so interesting to listen to. She is definitely one of my favorite narrators of the year!

Finally, I want to address the voice of the audiobook (Rebecca Yeo). She was incredible! There was so much emotion in her voice, and it felt like a very long bedtime story to me. I appreciated how she changed her voice for the different characters (the voice she used for Izanami was definitely my favorite). The narration worked so well with the beautiful descriptions used in the book, especially some of the gory stuff. The way she spoke about those things made me sqirm or cringe a bit, which is pretty hard to do!

The only other issue I had with the book was the length/time, but I usually don't read or listen to very long books, so this was a change for me. Once in a blue moon, I felt there was a scene that dragged a little too long for my liking, but it still made sense in the perspective of the story so it wasn't a big deal for me. 

Make sure to check out any TW/CW before reading. Enjoy! - lindsey
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