Cover Image: The Keeper of Night

The Keeper of Night

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Member Reviews

It was a bit of a slow start (though I think that might be inevitable when the main characters are all but immortal), and there were a lot of very “incidental” worldbuilding/plot moments. The characters spend a whole like 3 chapters eavesdropping on an important conversation so we can tell rather than show relevant information.

But once we made it to Japan, I was much more invested. I loved the focus on the mythology of yokai and the contrast between death in Japan and death in England. I think I wanted more of those classic “storytelling” moments (like when we get the stories of the individual yokai). I also really liked how much time was spent on Ren’s mixed heritage and how that impacts her perspective on family, on solitude, on her sense of self, etc.

The ending felt rather rushed, and I feel like 2/3 of our main cast went through some pretty dramatic changes in rapid succession - though I think it set us up for a very interesting book two.
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I couldn't put this book down once I started reading it. The writing is so vivid and skillful that I almost feel at home in these fantastical universes. I found it really surprising how easily I was able to empathize with a character whose motivations and actions I found difficult to follow. I was not ready for the narrative to be done when it was ended.

The ending of this novel was devastating. Should you find yourself towards the finish and considering quitting, I urge you to resist the urge. To proceed, I say. Whenever you develop emotional ties to the characters in a story, it hurts. Up until the final chapter, I had anticipated several different endings, all of which turned out to be incorrect.

There was one time at the conclusion where I felt like I got whiplash from the unexpected turn of events, and my suspension of disbelief slipped for a second because of it. I didn't get into the reasoning behind the characters' actions and decisions, and I thought they were done too quickly. Even though I felt this way, I think the author meant it that way, and the novel as a whole was enjoyable. You should spend the time and money to see this.
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I was really looking forward to this and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I feel there was something missing to being me around to loving the story, but I can't put my finger on it. Ren was struggling to find her place and I did feel her loss at being rejected but I was still hoping for more from her and the story. 

I love the Japanese myths and legends and the world building was fantastic. Once we hit the climax, the pace and excitement picked up. 

I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.
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Book DNFed. 

I tried to read this book so many times. I’ve restarted the eALC on three different occasions prior to publication and after publication I tried the finished version of the book through my local library twice (we all know the NetGalley app is horrible for audiobooks, it always skips and distorts the sound. I hoped a finished copy would make it easier to listen). I have never managed to make it past forty percent. This just doesn’t seem to be the book for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eALC.
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Thank you Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for the opportunity to listen to Keeper of the Night.

I normally love dark historical fantasies, however I didn't connect to the characters or the overall setting of this story. While the myths and legends of Japanese Yokai are an interest, the main character Ren, while struggling to find her place between two worlds, is a bit lack luster. Other than her Reaper/Shinigami abilities I didn't feel immediately compelled to listen to the next chapter. I did feel Ren's struggle of being biracial and the loss she felts by constantly being rejected from a home, a culture that's hers but doesn't want her. I think this is the aspect that made Ren not feel like a complete 2D character, her constant dialogue and explanation of how others and even her brother treated her. Yet at the same time I found myself annoyed with her character development more than once (especially what she did to her brother at the end!). I understand her feeling of loss and being lost, the lack of warmth and love she didn't receive growing up, but her constant flipping back and forth, not settling on a moral ground until it was too late did give me pause. The worldbuilding on the other had was amazing and extremely vivid. There seemed to be more thought into how the various yokai were represented than Ren's initial desires of 1) finding her mother and 2) becoming a Shinigami. 

I was disappointed and wanted more from story, the only scenes that makes me want to read the next book is due to the climax; Ren's fight with Hiro which was the level of interaction and writing pace I wish was in the majority of the novel.

4/5 stars!
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Ren and her half-brother Neven have to flee London after Ren accidentally on purpose uses her power to attack other Reapers. Ren has wanted to leave London for a while now as her half-British half-Japanese self is not welcomed. Neven doesn't want to leave her, because he is the best brother, and so they make their way to Japan to find the Shinigami and find Ren's missing mother. While in Japan they meet up with Hiro, a rejected Shinigami, and he tells them he knows how Ren can become a "real" Shinigami.

The Japanese folklore is fantastic, if you don't want to get this book, do it anyways just for the folklore. I keep wanting more stories, so learning that this is only book 1 is exciting as I'm hoping for more of the folklore.

I don't know how I feel about the characters, mostly I'm annoyed that Ren walks into such an obvious trap. Also, because she is only two centuries old and Hiro is many, many, centuries old, it feels like a creepy relationship from the start.

The narrator is wonderful and I enjoyed listening. I'm not sure if I would read another book (other than for the folklore), because I kind of like how Ren is at the end of this. It's sad and frustrating, but also kind of feels like she deserves it. Maybe that makes me a terrible person, but oh well.
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When I'm done with this review I'm going to go buy copies for all my book-loving friends! The Keeper of Night is a fast-paced  fantasy that brings much needed diversity and power to Young Adult books. The characters were unique and loveable, I can't wait to adventure again with them in book two! Baker's writing style was dark, detailed, and so mysterious! She leaves room for imagination but guides readers from London and Japan with great talent. I can't recommend The Keeper of Night enough and the audiobook has a great narrator if you don't have time to sit down and read.
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Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins for an eARC and an advanced audio book in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows Ren who is a reaper in London England and she collects the souls of the debt. However, she is also half Japanese. Her Shinigami Powers are beginning to be harder to control each day so she decides to flee to Japan in hopes that she will be accepted by other shinigami and start a new life there. Upon her arrival to Japan, she meets the goddess of death who says in exchange for killing at three Yokai (Demons) she will allow rent to be a shinigami in her realm. 

This book is littered with Japanese culture history and references. I absolutely love the mythology stories told and the connection to makes the characters. I absolutely loved that the character Ren is very morally gray. She rarely does the right thing and her experiences of being a mixed breed really clouds her judgement. The back-and-forth she has with her brother who has grown up a very privilege life is a good reflection of what our society is at times.

There is also a love interest and although I wasn’t completely invested in the romance, it was still an enjoyable element to read.

I was hooked from the first chapter, the book slow down a little bit and then really picked up after the 50% mark. The ending was expected, yet not. I really like the way the author went with the ending and I am very excited to read a book to. 

The audiobook was good, I think The narrator did a good job in telling the story. I do wish that she fluctuated her voice more when speaking for other characters but overall it was enjoyable. 

If you love Japanese culture, anime history mythology and more I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy the story.
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I think the audiobook was hard to consume for me! I struggled so hard and I don't know why. 
With that being said this was still a good read, the beginning was slow for me. I felt it was supposed to be intense, but I didn't know enough about the world or atmosphere to be scared for the characters yet.

Having a morally grey character is always interesting and having one in such a dark gothic almost world really brought it together. Loved the Japanese mythology and lore.

Sometimes I felt like the character made stupid decisions to bring the plot forward which is never my favorite so that did not help the rating. The brother was such a golden boy though and will forever be adored.

It is hard to say anything in regards to the plot outside of synopsis, but try it and enjoy!
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The Keeper of Night follows Ren, a half Reaper, half Shinigami as she tries to find her place among her fellow soul collectors. Ren begins her story in England where she is tormented by the other Reapers. When she lashes out after having enough, she is exiled from England. Headed to Japan in search of her mother, she is joined by her half brother and a stranger. This stranger guides them through the Japanese Underworld where Ren also hopes to join rank with the Shinigami. What secrets will unravel as Ren makes her way further into the underworld? And will she find her place among the Shinigami?

There were pieces I really enjoyed about this book, and pieces I had difficulty with. The imagery placed before us and the supporting characters throughout the underworld are the true stars of this novel. The perils our heroine faced were a welcomed respite from her constant selfishness and absolute disregard for those around her. Ren herself became difficult to relate with, however after finishing the book, I realize now that this may be the point. The ending does leave me wanting to follow her story more(trying to stay away from spoilers here) as it is possible her selfishness may devour her whole and make her unredeemable....and honestly why should it only be okay for males to be this way(looking at you Darkling and President Snow!).

Overall, an interesting beginning to a story I can only wish that will continue to spiral Ren down a path she may not come back from. Recommended for anyone 12+ as this imagery and submersion into an underworld less often traveled in books should be read by everyone.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Net Galley for an audio copy of The Keeper Of Night by Kyle Lee Baker.  As this is a popular book,  generally well liked,  I feel bad not liking it.   Somehow I was uninterested in the entire story.
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This book was enjoyable and a little darker than I was expecting. I loved that this featured a 'mixed-race' character and her struggles with identity. The way that this manifests in her abilities is fascinating as well. Just as in the mortal world, each culture has a different Reaper communities with unique powers and guiding principles. Being caught between cultures, Ren's mixed origins is not just about identity, but manifests in the powers she has.

Most of the reapers/shinigami, including Ren, are extremely apathetic and often cruel. I think this was an interesting take and realistic, but it made it difficult to connect with Ren at times. The book also tends to venture from action scene to action scene in a way that feels almost episodic. I'm not able to put my finger on anything in particular that bothered me, but it just felt a little flat on the whole.
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I gave this book a 3/5 because while I believe the writing was excellent, I did not enjoy reading this book. Acute suffering, violence, and cruelty were rife throughout the story. The world building swept me away and I found myself wishing I could get lost in and love this book. However, the lack of empathy displayed by characters and the utterly disturbing situations they were put in just left me feeling sick. Readers would need maturity and a strong stomach to withstand the graphic depictions of violence, including murder and torture. Readers who enjoy horror and morally grey protagonists would probably enjoy this book. It is clearly set up for a sequel, and it ends with a significant cliff hanger.
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I really loved the audiobook and the spooky world that Kylie Lee Baker has set up. Being someone who is mixed and looks more like one side (despite being more exposed to the other culture), I felt the main character's pain in not fitting in and I think Kylie Lee Baker really spoke out about it in the book. I am super excited to read book two and I will definitely recommend this book to many of my friends!
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I’m going to start off by saying I wish this book would have come out while I was in high school- because if it had I know me and all of my friends would have become totally obsessed and dived into writing fanfiction and making fan art. Sadly, I have not touched a sketch book in many moons and fanfiction doesn’t have the same pull it once did but oh my gods the WORLD BUILDING in this book is absolutely superb. 

The story Kylie Lee Baker weaves is both gorgeous and frightening. Ren is a full realized character that you can tell the author put her heart and soul in. Her struggle for belonging and to be accepted is heart wrenching and the reader feels with her. She is written as a real person, making mistakes and grappling with emotions that don’t always put her in a positive light. As a reader I appreciate this. I don’t want a perfect character. The relationship between the siblings was my favourite part of the book and it is tested throughout the events of the story. I did find that some parts of the book slowed down or felt repetitive when Ren was on her mission but it’s a small criticism. The ending sucker punched me even when I saw it coming and left me clawing for the next piece of Ren’s story. All and all, this glittering new jewel of YA fantasy. 

I will say- I had a horrible few months of surprise health problems that interrupted by listening of this audiobook (FYI, if you have a fever and fall asleep listening to this book you will have some *very* vivid dreams) so it took me longer to finish and write this review than planned. Had I not gotten sick (and then sick again) I would have finished and had this review up weeks ago.
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I was thrilled that I was able to enjoy this novel as an audio book! The narration was beautiful and the book so well developed and written. Overall, great and I would purchase it.
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The Keeper of the Night tells the story of  Ren, a woman who is half-Reaper and half-Shinigami, tasked with collecting souls. She flees London after her Shinigami powers become too hard to control, and must prove her worthiness and complete an impossible task to serve the Japanese goddess of Death.

This book drew me in right away. I enjoyed the fast-paced plot and the morally grey main character. It was refreshing to read Japanese mythology sewn into such a fascinating story. I can't wait for the next entry in the series, because that ending blew me away and left me wanting more. The author did a fantastic job creating interesting, terrifying monsters and creatures and making the world of the story feel familiar, and yet foreign at the same time. The writing was immersive and vivid, brought to life by amazing narration, and makes the reader feel as if they are on this journey with Ren and her brother. This is also a book where the author doesn't hold back and I love that.
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I deeply enjoyed this audiobook! The world buiding was wonderful and lush. I felt the whole time that I was with Ren and Naveen every step of the way. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator's pace and voicing of characters in this. The narrator's voice gave just the right amount of foreboding during the book. The Japanese mythology was so well intertwined in the story as I remembered some of the folklore while learning new ones. Ren's perspective was unique and I enjoyed the morally grey character. The story was compelling and engaging and I play to recommend it for others to enjoy! Thank you to NetGalley for a chance to listen to this incredible story
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The premise of this book sounded like it was designed precisely for me. A nice little fantasy about death and the struggles to embrace a mixed heritage that doesn’t embrace you back? Practically sounds like I commissioned it myself.

One thing that this book does extremely well is the way that it develops the cultural differences between creatures of death. The reapers of London and the Shinigami of Japan are the natural focus of this story, given Ren’s heritage, but the groundwork is well-laid to expand the focus to include the death gods from around the world and the logistics of competing systems of divinity in death. Really fascinating.

<blockquote> I closed his mouth and eyes, then whispered a compulsory prayer to Ankou, the Father of Death and King of the Reapers. Though I had never met him, I felt his presence everywhere the same way that humans felt love or hate or other intangible things. All Reapers were his servants, born halfway between the realm of humans and gods, bound to serve him and keep the human world in balance. Though the humans spoke of us as villains or nightmares, they needed us more than they would ever understand. Death brought humans fear, and fear made humans interesting. Without Death, humans would grow complacent and stale. Even we Reapers would one day surrender to Death’s scythe. In Britain, we served Ankou, but the Reapers beyond our borders answered to a different Death. In China, they served Yanluo, ruler of the Fifth Hell of Wailing, Gouging, and Boiling. In Mexico, they served Santa Muerte, a skeletal saint in brightly colored robes who granted protection to society’s forgotten children. And in Norway, there was Pesta the plague hag who dealt out death with a dusty broom. At least, that was what the legends said. But I knew better than anyone that legends were nothing but overgrown trees sprouted from tiny seeds of truth.</blockquote>

In some ways, the setup reminded me of my absolute favorite part Sylvia Moreno Garcia’s cult classic vampire noir book, <i>Certain Dark Things</i>, which did something similar in the way she set up the various species of vampires based on cultural and geographic lines using mythology and folklore to flesh out their characteristics. It was something I would have loved to see more of in that book, and something that this book, <i>Keeper of the Night</> does extremely good job with, addressing the logistics and power differentials that would be inherent to such a world.

Ok, so here’s the thing. This is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read this year! So you might be asking why, given that I loved it so much, I chose a 3 star rating. There is some five star imagery going on here, and the incorporation of Japanese folklore ads a wonderful layer of depth to the setting. The problem with this book lands somewhere between plot and character development, as both were far outshone by the setting and premise.

Extremely mild spoilers below this point.

I disliked the ending. Or rather, I became significantly distracted be a stunning series of poor decisions starting around the 80% mark and continuing to nearly the end. After I finished, I gave it considerable thought. At first I thought that my problem was that things became less plausible and I just didn’t like what was happening. Upon reflection however, I don’t think that was really the source of my discontent. The true disappointment of the ending was an unfortunate conflict between pacing (suddenly going far too fast) and under developed characters. These characters are nifty! I’m all for having more angry and unlikeable female protagonists to balance out the surplus of broody Byronic heroes. 

Ren’s position between two different worlds is fraught in ways that would wear sharp edges onto anyone’s personality. She’s a good sister when she remembers to be, but mostly she isn’t. She’s selfish and self-interested in ways that make perfect sense for someone who has had to fight for every bit of recognition and kindness she has ever received. Which is all good and dandy. Even her Terrible Error In Judgment ™ towards the end of the book is in keeping with her character, including the regret that followed. She is the most consistently developed of out three leads.

Neven’s determination to remain kind is a strength that is underused except for the ways in which it offers complications – we don’t get to see him develop much further than the stumbling block that repeatedly trips his sister’s ambitions—but the sacrifices that he made and the rationale behind his choices could stand to undergo a little reflection in order to fit him in to the narrative in a way that doesn’t make him disposable. He *could* have made an excellent foil for Ren. We see early on the ways that staying close to Ren repeatedly lowered his standing with the other Reapers, despite the fact that he was at least theoretically a more perfect example of what a Reaper should be, given his more reputable bloodline. The thing is, he simply chooses not to be a perfect reaper, not to be a bully like Ivy and the other young reapers, not to ostracize Ren even if it would make his life easier. In many ways, he is as good an example as Ren is that the societal problems in the ranks of the Reapers and Shinigami are not necessarily hereditary.

Slightly less mild spoilers beyond this point.

Hiro has complicated motivations and I think the entire story would have been better served if those motivations had been addressed more in depth as the story progressed, rather than cryptically hinting that he has secrets and expecting to use their reveal as a twist. He is another character that  *could* have been utilized as an extremely effective foil to Ren’s whole deal. He’s got all the personal background to make it work. They could bond over their lack of parental acceptance and the ways that they are visibly a target to the other “better” people in their society, Ren with her Japanese features struggling to blend in to a very white London and Hiro with his damaged foot trying to seek acceptance among the powerfully “perfect” Shinigami. There were a lot of ways to develop the fact that both he and Ren were using each other to get into Izanami’s good graces, desperate to get the things they wanted…and becoming fond of each other along the way. It’s the becoming fond of each other part that got left out the most starkly. Instalove works better at the start of a story than it does at the end, and probably would have worked really well at the start of this particular story, given how very well both their personalities and personal histories could mesh together.

There were ways to hit all of the same plot points that would have made the ending *not* feel like it came  hurtling out of left field, but the character foundations were not established well enough to hold it up (If you’d like a mixed metaphor here at the end of my mixed review).
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I read this book as an ARC through NetGalley, and I'm thrilled I got to experience this book again through audio book. I loved the story as much as I did the first time, and I adored the narrator. Definitely recommend.
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