Cover Image: The Keeper of Night

The Keeper of Night

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Member Reviews

I loved everything about this book.
This story follows Ren a Reaper in London who is treated in a very disrespectful way for the other Reapers, because she's half Japanese. One day she decides to leave and take her younger brother, Neven with her. The plan is to get away from Englan since they found out about her having Shinigami abilities shown to everybody. With her brother she makes it all the way to Japan, where she meets a boy named Hiro. After she is given by her goddes a mission, to kill all of the Yokais that oppose her. Ren goes with Hiro (who is also a Shinigami, but disgrased by the goddes) and Neven.
I did not think that Japanese culture was so extend. I loved all of the stories and the myths. 
I loved Neven a lot and I hope that he gets a happy ending. 
I loved how Ren developed and how she grew during the story.
Hiro was a big red flag for me since the begging.
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DNF @ 32%

I picked this up on audiobook after seeing some buzz on Twitter but unfortunately, Keeper of the NIght falls into many of the pitholes that make me struggle with YA debuts. Our MC, Ren, is perhaps on the most unlikable YA protagonists I’ve read in a while. Not in a ‘makes decisions that are rude to other people’ way but in a ‘why are you making these decisions do you have a brain’ way. Ren’s character follows the semi-recent YA trend of Strong Female Protagonists needing to be as unnecessarily antagonistic as possible, and while that’s understandable when faced with her British bullies, even when she ends up in Japan does she insist on this bizarre haughty cockiness in a country she’s literally never been too. Additionally, this is one of those books where the decisions and plot points that occur for the sake of advancing the story, regardless of how much interior logic is follow. Early on, Ren finds herself escaping from the British Reapers by crawling through ventilation tunnels when she finds herself above the Reaper Council discussing her capture. A chapter later, it’s pointed out that Reapers have incredibly good hearing, a heartbeat field away good hearing. So you’re telling that the council of the most powerful reapers, just… didn’t hear a two teens and a cat crawling through some ventilation shafts?? Overall, I rate this book a 2/5. Interesting premise with provoking descriptions of the Japanese yokai, but an absolutely insufferable protagonist and somewhat contrived plot points.
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This has to have been one of the coolest and most unique-sounding premises for a fantasy novel I’ve read this year. The Keeper of the Night follows Ren, a half Japanese Shinigami and half British Reaper, who lives with her brother Neven in London. After a dangerous run-in with fellow Reapers who have been maliciously targeting Ren for her mixed heritage, the siblings decide to flee the country instead of facing the wrath of their superiors. After a tumultuous journey they end up in Japan, where Ren is seeking out both the mother who abandoned her and the Japanese Goddess of Death.

Her assigned tasks are both simple and immense: in order to join the Shinigami, Ren must destroy three Yōkai demons that are threatening the peace. Armed with only her clock, her brother and a new companion, Ren sets off to do the impossible and try to claim her place in Yomi, the Japanese underworld.

The absolute best part of the book was the lore around Reapers, Shinigami and all the Japanese mythological subjects. Some legends, like the nine-tailed fox, I was already somewhere familiar with, but others were completely new and occasionally terrifying. The Keeper of the Night is not a story about magical people exploring an enchanting new world, it’s about *literal* harbingers of death going from violently removing the souls of the soon-to-be deceased to violently killing other lethal supernatural beings. Nearly every character we meet has a brutal streak and is unafraid to act on it.

While characterizations like this would normally a home run for me, on Ren it feels a little different. She’s not human and rarely acts like one, so everything she does has a layer of coldness covering it. Her brother, the only one who shows real humanity, is written off as weak whenever he shows this part of himself. Their relationship was both tenuous and devoted, but never quite reaching loving, so I had trouble seeing exactly how Ren felt about Neven. Yes she cares for him, but to what extent? This is a major theme in the book but I don’t feel as though we ever get a consistent answer to it.

I ended up listening to this book only because I was approved for an ALC and not for an ARC, but if I had the option to do it again I might have just waited. It was a little hard, in a story with Japanese words and plenty of mythology from both Japan and England, to recognize and remember all of the new words the narrator was saying. I wasn’t confused necessarily, but at the very least I might have liked a reference list of unfamiliar terms. The narrator did a good job overall, but I think there might have less of a disconnect if I could have followed along on a digital or physical copy.

Overall I liked it, just not as much as I thought I would. I feel like the ending came out of nowhere and eventually left me hanging, and I don’t know if my questions were intentionally left unanswered or not. I’m not sure if the next in the series will offer any clarity, but if I do end up picking it up, I’ll be sure to have a written copy handy.
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**I was provided an audiobook ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.**

Kylie Lee Baker presents The Keeper of Night, a story about a girl caught in between two bloodlines- Shinigami and Reaper. Ren serves the gods of death as best she is able and is determined to find the place where she fits in. When manifestation of her Shinigami heritage makes it dangerous for her to continue living in London among the Reapers, Ren makes for Japan. Accompanied by her brother, Ren finds that the move to Japan comes with challenges for her to earn her place among the Shinigami. Ren is determined to gain respect and belonging. To do so, she may have to learn that she is more than the sum of the parts of her bloodline.

I enjoyed this book. It was fine. I found that the pacing continuously moved forward and that Ren's struggles were understandable. I did find that Ren read young despite her reported age of being around 200ish years old. I wrote this off as being the adolescent age of Reapers and Shinigami along with the book being young adult and moved forward. I do think that Ren's lack of emotional maturity led to her coming across as a superficial sort of character. I also felt similarly about her brother and her love interest. I was not invested in the miscommunication with her brother or the conflict with her love interest when that came up. And though I read the book quickly, I don't think the story will stay with me due to my lack of investment in the characters. It came across as a junk food sort of read- fun and enjoyable but lacking a ton of substance. 

However, this book is perfect for fans of anime/manga, particularly in the age group for which it was intended. I actually requested it because I love anime/manga, and think it was possibly just a mismatch for me personally and what creates impact for me as a reader. Readers who like Inuyasha or Shadow of the Fox would likely also enjoy The Keeper of Night.
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Where to begin with this book? 
Keeper of the Night is a dark fantasy/folklore. I would even classify it as horror. That being said, it was completely engaging and completely frustrating. 
Ren, our protagonist, is a bringer of death. She is part English Reaper, part Japanese Shinigami, and 100% self absorbed. She is possibly one of the least likeable characters I have ever read. But, I think that is exactly what Kylie Lee Baker was aiming for. I don’t think she wanted us to ever fully like Ren. 
Ren’s half-brother, Neven, is the complete opposite. Even though he, too, is a Reaper, he is the bright spot in the book. Neven is the embodiment of kindness and compassion. He loves his sister completely and constantly, and sees her potential for good even when she hurts or disappoints him. He is the one that keeps hope alive. 
There is so much to talk about in this book, but it’s hard to do so without giving spoilers. I will just say that Baker’s consistency in writing Ren’s character is better than any other similar characters I have read. So, even though horror and dark fantasy are not genre’s I typically enjoy, I was impressed with this work. 
Thank you Dreamscape and NetGalley for a chance to listen to an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
#NetGalley #Dreamscape #TheKeeperofNight
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This story was unique in so many ways. I thought the setting was intriguing and learning the differences about the Reapers and Shinigami were fascinating. I enjoyed reading something new in YA Fantasy. 

Ren is not a very likeable character and to be honest I still didn't care for her by the end but I think that is the point of this story. She grew up never really fitting in and because of that she was bullied. She's become hardened over time and doesn't let people just walk all over her. She's got her mind set on becoming a Shinigami and she won't let anyone stop her from doing so. 

I enjoyed the sibling relationship between Ren and her brother for most of the book but when Hiro shows up things shift in their relationship and take a dark turn. 

Hiro is the love interest in this one and to me there always seemed to be something off about him. You want to trust him but at the same time you're not sure if you can and Ren's brother seems to be the only one skeptical of Hiro's intentions. 

This YA Fantasy is unique, fast-paced, and includes all our favorites from romance to betrayals. I enjoyed it and definitely look forward to the next book! I listened to the audio and it was well developed and I thought the narrator did a great job!

Thank you to Netgalley & Dreamscape Audio for providing me with the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher/Author for providing me with the audio of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ren is a half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami who collects the souls of people in London. She is surrounded by Reapers who despise her because of her differences in appearance/genetics. After she accidentally unleashes her Shinigami powers on a bully, Ren and her brother, Nemen, flee to the underworld of Japan so she can finally find somewhere to fit in. Unfortunately, Ren must prove to the Goddess of Death that she is worthy of her Japanese heritage by completing the insurmountable task of destroying 3 Yokai demons. How far will Ren go to carve out a place where she and her brother will be welcome?

I think this was one of those books that either just wasn't for me or would have been better received if I had read the actual text rather than listen to the audiobook. Often with fantasy books, I don't read the synopsis so I don't spoil anything for myself. In this case, that was a grave mistake. The beginning was very confusing to me trying to work out the magic system and hierarchy of the world. I also found the pacing to be a problem. The story starts out with so much going on and then once they make it to Japan, I felt the pace really slow down to the point where I had to force myself to push through it. Somewhere around the 70% mark I felt the story start to pick up again and I began to really enjoy the story. The ending definitely saved this one for me, as by then I had worked out a lot of how the world worked and really loved the direction the story took. Although certain aspects were predictable, it was very enjoyable seeing how everything played out. The world building in this book is really phenomenal. The way Japanese folklore exists within the story definitely put a fresh take on the common 'slaying unbeatable demons' trope. There was a lot of wonderful imagery and descriptions that made the world come to life in my imagination. The characters were another great aspect of the book. My favorite character was definitely Neven, Ren's brother. All of the characters were morally grey or flawed in one way or another, which made them incredibly relatable. Ren has a fantastic character arc by the end of the book. To be honest, I really struggled to root for her due to her making unsavory decisions, but by the end, I was definitely rooting for her. She really struggled with her anger at how the world treats her and she also struggles to fully accept and embrace herself.

Fans of redemption-esque dark fantasy stories with Japanese influence will appreciate this one. Those who enjoy a strong Asian female main character in their books will most likely love this one. I definitely recommend reading this instead of listening as I did.

3.5💫
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I’m really torn with this one.

What I loved:

The Japanese folklore - the Youkai demons were literally something out of my worst nightmares, and at no point does the author hold back on the gore! 

The world building and atmosphere - it’s dark, desolate and the author does an incredible job of immersing you in 1800s London and Japan.

The battle of identity that Ren endures being mixed race - half British (reaper) and half Japanese (shinigami) but never completely whole with either identity and shunned by both cultures.

The battles/adventures - again, the plot is fast paced, and I loved watching Ren learn something new as she battled these demons. 

What I didn’t enjoy: 

The constant back and forth internal struggle that Ren has towards the relationship she has with her brother. He’s literally the only person that has supported her and runs away with her, and we yo-yo between him being her sole focus to her not caring what happens to him. It was just way too much back and forth and a lot of her decisions (especially towards the end) had me wondering why he was even a part of the plot in the first place. 

Ren as a character. Look, I’m all for morally grey characters since I don’t think that characters are all good or all bad. But there are so many decisions that she makes that are the antithesis of who she is. Also, there’s several inconsistencies about her nature as half reaper and half shinigami, and the specific characteristics to each only come up when they are convenient to the story. 

Instalove storyline - I don’t even dislike instalove as a trope, and I get behind it more often than not. It doesn’t work here. I’ll just leave it at that. 

As a last bit, if you’re a person that doesn’t like cliffhangers, well turn back. 

Thank you to Dreamscape Media for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
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The Keeper of Night is a young adult fantasy novel about a half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami living in London who has to flee to Japan when she can't control her Shinigami powers. In order to be accepted in Japan she has to slay three Yokai chosen by Izanami, the Goddess of Death, to prove herself. The Japanese Mythology in this novel is fantastic. I loved hearing about every yokai's story and background. The descriptions were also well done.

The weakest part of the novel for me was when I would get frustrated at the main character Ren. She ends up trusting a guy she just met, who is a walking red flag that he's not telling the full truth, over her younger half-brother who she loves the most in the world. All because the guy is attractive... It's not unrealistic, but it is frustrating. Most of the twists were too obvious with the red flags waving everywhere in the background and hitting you in the face.

The novel is overview very enjoyable and a fast-paced read. My only wish was that the mysteries were a little harder to figure out. I can't wait to see where the last book in the duology goes.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for an audiobook version in exchange for an honest review.
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Although the speaking speed was slow (I ended up listening at 1.5x speed, and it was perfect), Rebecca Yao did a masterful job of narrating this story. 

Review of the ARC ebook:

What would you do to achieve everything you ever wanted; to change your place within society; to gain power over your own destiny? What would it take to change your world? Would you give up all that hold dear? Would you even lose your own soul? "Keeper of the Night" by Kylie Lee Baker is a masterful story about the world of death, reapers, and Shinigami that weaves intrigue, angst, unknown, doubt, betrayal, culture, and murder together in a way that is maddening yet delightful to the reader. The book is a fast-paced read that never gives the reader a moment of peace. The world within is shown, explained, and driven by the plot. There is no mystery where it should not be, and the reader is still left spellbound by the twists and turns that get them to the end.
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Ren has spent her two hundred years of life in England being bullied and overall tormented by the Reapers for being a half breed, treating her life as lesser when in actuality she holds a strong and dangerous power inside her. When one of her regular tormentors drives Ren over the edge and her power explodes out of her, Ren knows that she has to escape. Leaving behind everything she knows, Ren and her beloved brother journey to Japan so Wren can learn more about her other Shinigami half and maybe find a place to belong.

The narrator was ok, not my favorite to be honest though. She very much sounded like a young girl when in actuality the character was 200 years old and looked to be in her twenties. I am super nit picky and while the narrator had a character appropriate English accent, she pronounced some words oddly and did not do other character voices so at times it was hard to differentiate between speakers when listening to the book.

This was a very interesting storyline, completely unique and full of legends, danger, murder/gore and quests that kept the story moving. I really struggled with the main character Ren, she was very angsty and did not think of others and I did not root for her success- she could probably be called the anti-hero. This was basically the tale of how Ren turned from a bullied girl to an assassin for hire to something very unexpected and it made me sad. I can see how other people will really like this book, it was just not for me. Keep in mind that this is the first in a series (possibly a duology) so the ending is not the end at all but just more conflict.
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced listeners copy. The Keeper of the Night is a story about Ren who is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. Ren is struggling with her identity and is bullied by other Reapers. After a turn of events, Ren flees London along with her half-brother on a mission to find her place in Japan among the Shinigami. 

In my opinion, the best thing about this story is the Japanese mythology. The mythology focuses on Izanami, the goddess of death, and popular Yokai legends, which I enjoyed. Ren as the main character is a bit unlikable, but I think this was intended by the author.  I hope her development will continue in book two. Ren’s brother, my favorite, is the most loyal and genuine of the main characters. Last but not least is Hero. He is the mysterious love interest who kept me intrigued throughout the story. 

This story includes a few of my favorite tropes: a journey and a quest. However, my biggest issue was the pacing. Everything happened too quickly. I would have enjoyed more time on the journey from London to Japan as well as more time on the quest. Some of the information was info-dumpy - especially in the first chapter. I think this was because the author was trying to provide so much information in just a few pages. After all, there wasn’t time or space to give everything the attention it deserved. Additionally, the ending felt like a left turn and left me a bit unsatisfied. 

Reasons others may enjoy this book:
-Japanese Mythology
-Culturally Diverse
-Sweet younger brother
-The mysterious love interest 
-Good narration on the audiobook
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I thoroughly enjoyed this dark YA fantasy steeped in Japanese folklore—a really strong debut novel! This book explores ideas of family—how we are abused by family, how that affects us, and how that does not stop us from turning around and abusing others. It also deals a great deal with the desire to belong. Our main character is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami, and she spends the book struggling to find a way to feel whole instead of always feeling like she's coming up short. I loved the cold brutality of the main character, which only made her cinnamon bun brother even more endearing. One of the best things about this book was getting to see a bunch of creepy beings from Japanese folklore. Unfortunately, I didn't find the romance compelling.
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I need more books about death gods in my life! I've heard of Shinigami before, but didn't know much about them. The lore is so interesting and I would read a dozen more books about the various cultures death gods and rituals.

The story jumps right into the plot and tells us what we need to know about Reapers while keeping the action flowing. I felt like each chapter had so much happening and the author really packed a lot into this without it feeling overly long or boring. There's great pacing and I was easily able to stay engaged with the story.

Ren is a really interesting main character. She's been bullied by the other Reapers for being half Shinigami and her father has disowned her. Her brother Neven is the only one by her side and goes with her when she runs away to Japan to find her mother. Ren changes a lot over the book and it's a great arc. She's beaten down in the beginning, then starts to gain courage as she's among other Shinigami and is able to use her abilities. She's goes a bit dark side, letting her power go to her head, but in the end I think she settled in an okay balance of good and bad. I can't wait to see how she's developed in book two!

I voluntarily read and reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. Thank you to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the copy.
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Baker tells a tale that smacks of legend. The protagonist is fairly well developed, as are a couple of the secondary characters. The story line is interesting and can keep the reader moving along. There were opportunities for the author to beat the reader about the head with social and political ideology, but she (mostly) refrained. Hallelujah and thank you!!! Readers typically tend to be intelligent enough to form and articulate opinions reading such issues without being told what to think. I value those authors who understand that and resist the urge to hammer the pet social issue of the day. 

Unfortunately not every book can be amazing. It’s ok for a book to be merely, well, ok. That’s what this book was for me; just ok. Nothing really stood out in either good or bad ways. I didn’t fall in love with the writing, the plot, or the characters, but I didn’t despise them either.

I rate this book 3 stars. If you’re looking for something that will help you transition from your last read to your next read, this one would be a decent choice. You could do better, but you could also do worse.

My thanks to Dreamscape Media via Netgalley.
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The Keeper of Night is the story of Ren, half a Bristish reaper and half Japanese shinigami. However, she doesn't fit in in her London home despite living there and collecting souls for centuries. So she ventures to Japan with her brother Neven in the hopes of finding her long-lost mother. Once there, Ren finds herself on a quest to destroy Yokai (Japanese demons) to earn her rightful place as a full shinigami.

First of all, Ren isn't very likable, but she's supposed to be that way. Hiro, their Japanese guide, isn't particularly likeable either. Dear sweet Neven is probably the most likable character in this whole book, and his childlike innocence and inherent goodness is just such a paradox for a reaper. It's done really well.

Baker weaves in Japanese mythology seamlessly, and as someone who lived in Japan for a number of years, I knew that it would be dark. With that, this books is super atmospheric and rich with horror. I loved that most of all. Hearing about the Yokai always had my full attention. I only wished for more Yuki-onna. Holy cow was she wicked! All the Yokai were arguably the most interesting part of this whole book.

I received the ALC read by Rebecca Yeo. Overall she was great, but I especailly loved her reading of the Yokai. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ALC.
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I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Keeper of Night was freaking FANTASTIC guys! I absolutely freaked out when I got approved to dive into this beautiful book. I'm also really excited to see what everyone else will think about it after it has been published. It was just that good!

In this, you will meet Ren. She is basically sick of everyone's shit or maybe that's just me sick of everyone treating her like shit. Either way, we are both fed up and she's ready to ditch this place she calls him. The one thing she has to look out for? Her brother. Now he's her ride or die kind of sibling because once she mentions going to Japan to find her mother he's like - when do we leave?

Along the way, they meet Hiro. Of course I was completely suspicious of him after this little meet and greet. It sucks that he was judged based off of his foot but it sucked even more that people would constantly tell Ren what she is or isn't. Like calm down people - worry about yourself before she goes bat shit bad ass crazy on you.

True me - she will.

Each twist and turn brought me into some deep dark stuff. I loved it all. Even though one girl was pretty creepy and I would never want to meet her. Like ever. Ever. In the end, the romance was kind of meh and it seemed like they were kind of naïve with their trust pretty early on. Other than that, I'm all kinds of stoked to see what is going to happen next. Especially with how this ended.
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If the idea of a dark YA fantasy with a morally gray main character and creepy Japanese mythology sounds appealing, you should definitely check out The Keeper of Night.

The story opens in a gripping way that throws you right into the life and experiences of Ren- half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami and struggling to find a place where she can be entirely accepted. At its core this is a book about identity, family, and the experience of being a person of mixed race where both sides reject you and see you as lesser.

Ren has been raised in London where she reaps souls and tries to avoid the young Reapers who torment her for her difference. But when she reveals a secret about her power, she's forced to go on the run with her younger half-brother and Ren is determined to track down the Japanese mother who gave her up.

This book brings Japanese mythology to life and let me tell you, a lot of it is very dark and violent! I didn't expect how creepy this would be, at times almost leaning into horror, but it's kind of perfect heading into spooky season. Ren is hurt, angry, and willing to do anything for the acceptance she has been denied. But will she lose her own soul in the process? This does have a dark romantic subplot as well, but I don't want to say too much about it. Suffice to say I have a feeling that given the YA love for dark and brooding love interests, we're probably going to be see some fan art of this character.

Overall, I really liked this and it's a very strong debut. There were times the pacing didn't totally work for me and moments where the YA angst and tropiness was a bit too much for my personal taste, BUT that was very much overshadowed by the use of Japanese mythology, the cool and creepy world-building, and having an angry, murderous female MC. Definitely one to watch. The audio narration is really great as well and I would especially recommend it if you're unfamiliar with these Japanese terms and their pronunciation. I received an advance audio copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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3.5 stars rounded (?) *may change

I'm actually not sure about this rating at all? 
I tend to rate books on a scale of enjoyment. A book could be masterfully written with great prose and storytelling, but if I don't care then I /don't care./ I'll still rate it low.  That being said, this book was so not enjoyable to read. 

All of the characters are annoying to an unreadable degree, which, YES, I understand is the point, but it doesn't make them any less annoying. Just because the characters are meant to be unlikable doesn't suddenly give them a pass for frustrating the life out of me. 

I think it's all of the morality in this book—or lack thereof, or confusion of morality?—that annoyed me so much. Some characters would have tight moral systems that interfered with the greater storyline (which was so damn annoying) but would otherwise do horrible things anyway? Or other characters would be cruel until suddenly developing sympathy out of nowhere. Like, okay, I'm not saying I want to read a book where characters are all horribly dark and vicious people, but if a character is going to be a bad person they should /be a bad person./ I can't stand when they suddenly get a change of heart from human emotions, especially since none of the protagonists are humans? Like, why is a shinigami or a reaper experiencing this much pity? Dude, you literally collect human souls. 

Speaking of, I feel like my soul was shrinking into itself trying to get through the second third of this book. So annoying.

It's a bit of a fast-paced story, honestly, which I rather like if the characters weren't so irritating. All of the fight scenes were interesting enough and held some sort of stake. 

The rating is absolutely up for change between a 3 and a 4. I just don't know. On one hand, yeah, the author exceeded at doing what they sought out to do with this book. On the other hand, no, reading about it was not fun. I guess this is a book for people who don't mind reading about unlikable people so long as they're meant to be that way. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advanced reader's copy.
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DNF 50%

So why the 3 star review? This isn't for me. It started very very strong but lost me after that. But I know that for a lot of readers and customers it will be loved. The writing just started on the older side of YA and then trended younger.

And that is fine. It is YA and that is absolutely fine. I don't feel comfortable giving a book 1 star because it read young. It is YA. For me, I had hopes it would have stayed on the projector with which it started.

Normally I don't even write a review for a book I don't finish but because of the reasons above, I felt it was important to do so.
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