Cover Image: The Keeper of Night

The Keeper of Night

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars, ALMOST 4.
This was a super unique book! The main character Ren is half reaper (from Britain) and half Shinigami (from Japan). Living in London, she doesn't feel like she really fits in due to her Japanese heritage and not looking like the typical person from London. I really liked how the 2 sides of her heritage played such a large part in this book. 
The 2 separate parts of Ren were so interesting. As a reaper she obviously reaped souls. Reapers have clocks which allow them to stop time while they are reaping. While around other reapers, her Shinigami powers (power to control light) come out and she is basically run out of London because of it. We then travel to Japan and learn more about the Shinigami and Ren's journey to fit it and become a Shinigami. They were 2 totally separate things and we both such important parts of the story.
I didn't really connect with any of the characters, although I did like them. Ren really took us on a journey and I liked being there through her struggle. I liked her brother Nevin, no matter what, he was by her side through the good decisions and the bad decisions. There was also Hiro (not sure about spelling!) who was very mysterious. I really liked the element of mystery he provided.
The plot had an ok pace, there were parts that were a little slow, but the ending was so intense! It really went in a direction that I wasn't expecting and it left us really wanting to know what happened next!
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HELLO??? 
4.5 stars, rtc 

thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book!
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Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins for helping me get an ebook and an audiobook of this title!
I am sure being biracial is such a complex thing to deal with in the first place, and the author truly made me feel things for this main character. It really kept you hooked from the get-go. I wanted to know more about this story. Wren's little brother is someone I would possibly die for, such a sweet person who is truly just diving into danger for her. 
This book is a must-read for YA fantasy lovers!
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Pay attention to the word 'night' in the title. This book is dark, as in they are always in the dark of night. Baker makes you feel the darkness. And it's not a sunshine and roses type of book. 

I really enjoyed delving into Japanese folklore to a certain extent throughout the book as Ren searches for a place in the world. Being half-British, half-Japanese, she's not a Reaper and she's not a Shinagami. This is a search for where she belongs and who she is exactly. 

Despite the bleakness you feel in reading her journey, I really enjoyed it. The fact you can 'feel' what she is going through, to me, means an expertly written story.
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Keeper of Night was a pure joy to read. Kylie Baker's world building deserves an A+, filling her story with beautiful mythology from multiple cultures. Ren, our main character, is a half-British, half- Japanese reaper. As the story progresses, you get to see how different regions of the world handle their dead. While London has their reapers, Japan has their Shinigami. Both serve different gods of death, has their own unique powers, and each has their own rules and regulations that were a thrill to read about and explore.
While Keeper of Night is aimed as YA, it felt very mature in the best of ways. A sophisticated YA book is like heaven for me.
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I would like to start by thanking HarperCollins Canada and the HCC Frenzy (YA influencers) team for not one, not two, but THREE opportunities to read and enjoy this fantastic book before it hit the shelves. One of my most anticipated fall catalogue titles after the fall preview evening, I requested both the eARC and audio ARC copies as soon as I could via NetGalley, and was later pleasantly surprised to see that this ended up being one of my two randomly assigned print ARCs that showed up at my door a couple of weeks later. Thank you! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

The Keeper of Night is a suspense-filled urban fantasy steeped in Japanese mythology that follows Ren, an biracial Reaper who suddenly finds herself unwelcome in Britain and fleeing to her other ancestral home, Japan, to join the Shinigami. When she finally arrives and finds the Goddess of Death she's tasked with three missions to prove her worth and sets off to complete these tasks with the help of her half-brother, British Reaper Neven, and a banished Shinigami by the name of Hiro. How far will she go to earn Death's favour? Who can she trust? Will she ever belong anywhere?

This is such a beautifully dark and tragic story that manages to make you sympathize with immoral agents of Death and keeps you guessing until the very end. The prose is gorgeous, the elements of mystery are compelling, and the characters feel so real. Neven is precious! We would definitely be friends.

I found myself trying to figure out what Ren didn't know as the story went on, trying to figure out it Neven's worries were valid, and every time I thought I knew what the next reveal was going to be I was proven ever so slightly wrong. The pacing is perfect and the twists are so satisfyingly perfect, even if I couldn't quite guess them. Without spoiling anything, I'll say the ending is not a happy one, but I wouldn't want it to be. This book is far more impactful without the rose-coloured glasses that would be required to envision a happy ending, and I doubt any attentive reader will expect a happy ending by the time they've reached the halfway point.

And can we give credit where credit's due and praise the biracial representation? This main character is a BIPOC woman whose heritage is split between the East and the West, and neither world claims her as their own. Her turmoil and pain over this feels so genuine. For readers who are also biracial, I think they'll feel very seen and understood. For everyone else, it's a glimpse of understanding into an existence we might not otherwise understand.

The audiobook narration by Rebecca Yeo was fantastic! I appreciated the accurate Japanese pronunciations that really made it all feel that much more authentic. Rebecca was able to make each character sound distinct without adopting any annoyingly extreme pitch shifting tactics, and I'll always give props to narrators who can do that. My one critique is that every time the phrase "silver fish" came up, as in fish that are silver or metallic, is sounded smooshed together into "silverfish," which are tiny, moisture-loving pests that may crop up in a bathroom with poorly sealed fixtures. Context helped avoid genuine confusion, but it pricked my ears and made my take note every time it was said.

Thanks again to everyone who decided I needed to read this book. You were right, and I agree! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, Japanese mythology, or coming-of-age tragedies.
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I was so fortunate to get an advanced audiobook through NetGalley - THANK YOU!

I LOVED the story that Ms. Baker created with The Keeper of Night. Ren Scarborough is a half British reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, who collects souls in the London Streets. I loved that this story included Japanese folklore that just keeps you engaged in the story due to curiosity. The folklore that Ms. Baker includes is so spooky that it takes you back to the monsters and creepy characters you met in Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. I literally kept seeing No-Face in some of these characters presented in The Keeper of Night. I loved how vivid and intricate the world-building was, allowing the reader to really transport themselves into the world.

Only complaint? HOLY CLIFFHANGER. Ms. Baker - You are mean (but not). Thank you for creating such a beautiful world and allowing your readers a view of Japanese folklore. I cannot wait to continue this story when the next book releases.
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This was such an intriguing story. It’s from the point of view of a grim reaper type being who is tasked with taking souls to the afterlife. The whole thing felt like a mythological tale, which is nice because there are several myth-like stories rock within it as well. I always find it fascinating when stories are told through non-human characters. It was scary, gory, and gross at times, but also funny and with highly emotional moments and moral dilemmas. Some parts seemed random to me, or unfinished, but overall I was highly entertained.
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This book was so freaking good. From the first page I was hooked. 

I'm certain I was annoying my spouse because I had to put it down to be an adult and wouldn't stop talking about how I needed to pick it back up I need to see where it was going. How the dark girl would find a place she belonged. 

I was for certain I had figured out the ending too, but BAM I was so wrong and shook I just ugh it has been a minute since I felt this excited about a book. 

I see that there will be more but they don't even have a name or date so let the agony of waiting begin. 

My only fault which is with myself because I don't know when I hear little brother I kept imagining him as like 10 years old because he was just so kind and caring, but he was perfect and I loved him so much
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Being half English Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami, Ren has never felt like she truly belonged. That feeling is further cemented when she’s unable to control her Shinigami powers and is driven out of London. Now, she’s in Japan, on a quest to prove herself worthy to serve the Goddess of Death so that she can gain the acceptance she never received in London.

I think I found my new favorite fantasy to obsess over…seriously, this was AMAZING. The worldbuilding was incredible, the relationships were incredible, the complexity of the characters was incredible, I think you get what I’m saying.

Read this if you like: morally grey/villain badass female leads, fantasy that has themes relevant to the real world, and complex characters and relationships!
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The Keeper of Night was Amazing i really loved the plot and the narrator was perfect bringing the book to life. The writing was fantastic and i loved this unique story line
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CW: bullying, assault, racial slurs, violence and gore

It’s probably more of a 4.5. 

I used to be quite disinterested in reading any dark fantasy until a while ago and probably why I used to read a lot of YA because they could be gritty but never too dark. But that changed when I started exploring books mostly written by BIPOC authors which blew all my assumptions about the subgenre, and I have read quite a few amazing ones since then. And that’s how I found this book on my tbr. And I find myself lucky that I received the audiobook advance copy because it was just wow. 

I didn’t know much going into this story, so it was actually a pretty surprise the way this book started. It set the tone for what was to come and it only got more intense. The author is brilliant at creating the atmosphere in this story. As we are dealing with Death and Reapers and Shinigami here, it’s really interesting how oppressive and suffocating the setting feels, even more augmented by Rebecca’s narration. The writing is very evocative and searingly emotional, forcing us to feel everything that’s happening. The story does start off a bit slow but immediately picks up once Ren reaches Japan and from then on, it’s like a bullet train ride with no brakes. But the many confrontational scenes are what will leave a mark on any reader because they are very gory and violent and explicitly described, making them feel even more scary and horrifying when listening to them. 

Ren is a protagonist whose arc is a masterclass in characterization. She is biracial and has always been made to feel less and worthless and unwanted due to her mixed heritage, but she has kept it all bottled up because she doesn’t have much choice. But once the dam breaks, we get to see just how much rage and wrath she has been hiding and what she is ready to do to finally find her true place in this world. She is extremely frustrating as well as equally sympathetic at the same time, and that’s what makes her a compelling character. We want to hate her because she is making horrible decisions but also feel like she finally deserves to do what she wants. It’s a tale of contradictions, the descent into the thirst for power, the rise and fall and transformation of a powerful woman who is ultimately lonely despite being surrounded by thousands. 

And then we have Neven and Hiro. Neven is Ren’s brother, the compassionate and merciful among the two, who is the moral compass trying to pull away Ren from a path of no return. But he is not always successful because her deep anger and sadness is not something he can understand, because he has never had to feel unwanted or bullied because of his heritage. Hiro on the other hand is a charming man who instantly ignites a feeling in Ren, encouraging and supporting her in everything that she needs to do to achieve her goal, however distasteful the task might be. They are an unstoppable force when together and it’s easy to get lost in their love story. 

But ultimately this is a story of death, not love. The author weaves a terrific tale of power and anger and hope, and what happens when all three come together. This is harsh and brutal but extremely unforgettable, with the narrator’s voice remaining in our head long after we’ve finished listening to the audiobook. And what an ending that was. The last 10-15% seems both predictable and utterly shocking and it left me gasping because I couldn’t believe it all happened… and kept happening. I can only guess what more horrors we’ll have in store for us in the sequel but I’m ready to take the plunge.
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This story was really interesting.  I love anything that is steeped in lore and myth, and this delivered.  I also love learning about other cultures through books, even if it is fictional.  It will often drive me to look things up on my own as this book did with regards to the Yokai and Shinigami.  It is interesting to see how various cultures approach death and the different entities that maintain the balance of life and death in each.  It is also really fascinating to see how each culture represents the afterlife.  What does that have to do with this book you might ask?  Our main character Ren is half Shinigami and have Reaper.  The Shinigami serve the goddess of death in Japan, while the Reapers serve the god of death in Britain.  Ren was raised in London, but she was never really accepted because of her mixed heritage and powers.  She flees London with her brother in tow hoping to find acceptance in Japan, only to find that she has to prove herself to the Goddess there before she can serve as a true Shinigami.

This story was very unique and kind of dark.  I think if you liked Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy, you will like this.  It has that same dark, folklore vibe.  Some of the spirits are harmless, while others are truly terrifying.  This focuses on three specific Yokai that Ren has been sent to dispatch because they have upset the balance, but as Ren, her brother Neven, and their companion Hiro complete each quest, she realizes all may not be as it seems.  Ren also has to question her own motivations and we'll call it humanity though she isn't human.  There is definitely a struggle between her light and dark sides.  Neven has always kept her grounded, and he's even a bit squeamish when it comes to his Reaper nature, but Ren has never had an issue when it comes to her duties and dealing with death and violence.  Neven is seen as weak when he questions the actions of his kind, and when Ren finally feels she's found her place among the Shinigami she pushes him away.  When she realizes that there may have been something to Neven's compassion it may be too late for redemption and forgiveness.  I guess we'll find out in the next book.

I thought the world building in this was fantastic!  The scenes were described in excellent detail.  That being said be warned that there are several dark, violent, gory scenes in this book.  I also thought the magic system was explained very well.  Ren has the abilities of both a Reaper and a Shinigami, and while you'd think that would make her extra useful it is part of her character arc that makes her unwanted and outcast in both societies.  I really enjoyed the dichotomy of Neven and Hiro as kind of the Angel and Devil on Ren's shoulders throughout the book, one pulling her to the light and one pulling her toward the dark.  Ultimately she makes her own decisions in the end, but they were both there with her the entire way.  I'm really anxious to see where the next part of the story goes.  I was happy to see that this was a duology, but I thought this book ended nicely and could stand by itself.  While there are things left open, it does conclude nicely and doesn't leave you with some great big twist or cliffhanger.

I felt the audio narrator did a good job with the narration, however I would have liked a bit more distinction between the characters.  I think that's more of a personal preference.  Her actual performance was good, and I enjoyed listening to the book.
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Holy s**** this was amazing! The gore in this had me shocked. Ren being a morally grey character worked with the story so well. Everything about this book was a shock to my system in a good way. I listened to the audiobook, which I'm normally not a big fan of, but this book is so well done that I found myself attuned to it more than what I originally thought I was going to be.
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The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker explores the adventures of Ren, a soul reaper. She's half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, and this makes sure she doesn't fit anywhere. This book is rich with Japanese mythology.

It starts a little slow, but picks up once Ren leaves London. Overall, interesting and unique story.

I listened to the audible version of this book and the narrator did an excellent job.
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Ren is a half British Reaper and half Japanese shinigami who is trying to find where she fits in. Ren escapes her life as a Reaper to journey to Japan and attempt to find her mother and a new sense of belonging. In order to become part of the shinigami society, she must complete dangerous tasks alongside her brother and a mysterious outcast.  

What I enjoyed most about The Keeper of Night was the unique, dark story line and focus of reapers and the underworld. The idea of each country/culture having their own process for collecting souls along with the different dimensions and monsters for each underworld was creative and captured my curiosity. I also really enjoy Japanese folktales and myths which were scattered throughout the story. 

What I struggled with was my opinion of the main character, Ren. I sympathized with her at the beginning, but she slowly became more and more selfish and unaware of what was happening around her, which seemed obvious.. She started making stupid decisions and I lost respect for her further through the book and there was a feeling of hopelessness the followed her , along with inconsistency in her character. The plot, while unique to anything else I've read, did not have a consistent flow and I felt like I read several books smooshed into one. I think I would have enjoyed it broken up with more concentration on the monstrous quests, world-building, and elaboration of Ren’s origins and the darkness inside her. 

I am still soaking up the ending of this novel. On one hand I enjoyed an ending I did not wholly expect and one that was not entirely a HEA; but, I was also left feeling unsatisfied with mixed thoughts. I see there may be a sequel in the works, so maybe the ending is not as unfinished as I believe. Thank you NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for a copy in return for an honest review.
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This book really surprised me. It isn’t an “edge of your seat” action packed book, but rather a slow burn fantasy with phenomenal world building. This is a really well done Own Voices fantasy book, that takes place is Japan in 1890. There are reapers, Shinigami, and Death himself. Super original and addicting. 

I am already anxiously awaiting book 2!!!
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The Keeper of the Night by Kylie Lee Baker
 “Would you stake your compassion on the thousands of lives lost if you’re wrong?” 
~~~
    This is such a dark book revolving around Japanese folklore, and I am all for it! I love Baker’s characters and the world that she built for this book; yes it is still our world, but it’s also not. HAHA the trickery; anyways love how Baker has used their heritage in a book and shared it with her readers! There is so much folklore in one book; it's astonishing.  Baker is truly a talented author and certainly can’t wait for their next work! 
  If you love Japanese folklore, horror, sci-if; this book is absolutely for you! Thank you so much Kylie Lee Baker, Dreamscape Media, and Netgalley for the ARC of the Audible version!
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This was an okay book the end was the best part the placing of the book was good.it was okay at the start. Eventually I became disconnected from the story. As I said that ending was the best I have read in a while.
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Thai story follows Ren, half British reaper and half Japanese Shinigami who collects the souls of people in London. For almost her whole life Ren has felt like she hasn’t belonged, hated and tormented because of her mixed heritage. She doesn’t look like the other Reapers and she is never allowed to forget it. 

One night, after capturing souls and heading home, she is attacked by three high reapers. Unable to hold in her rage, she loses control and injures them. Knowing she will face severe punishment for what she has done, she races home and decides she needs to flee. Her brother Neven hears what happened and decides to abandon everything and flee with her, going to Japan so that hopefully, Ren can find herself and find someplace she truly belongs. 

Once in Japan, Ren finds that things won’t be as easy as she hoped and she sets out on a journey to prove she can have a place among the Shinigami. 

This book truly is a journey of self identity and family, it shows you how it can feel being a person of mixed race who isn’t accepted on either side. It is a very dark and creepy telling of Japanese mythology and an amazing spooky read for spooky season! 

Overall this is a great read, at times there was very strong teen angst which deterred me a little from loving the main character but the creepy, dark Japanese mythology is worth it. I definitely recommend if you want to learn more about these subjects and the audiobook was great. Thank you to NetGalley, Dreamscape audio and Kylie Lee Baker for the audiobook arc.
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