A Thousand Steps Into Night by Tracy Chee (370 pages)
When An Ordinary Life Becomes Extraordinary in A Thousand Steps Into Night
Miuko is an ordinary girl who lives an uneventful life in the realm of Awara as the daughter of an innkeeper in A Thousand Steps Into Night. On a day like any other in her village, Miuko is cursed by an unexpected presence and begins transforming into a demon. Terrified by what is happening to her, she sets off on a quest to find a solution that will reverse the curse. With a magpie as her sidekick and friend, the companions embark on a journey together. However, Miuko notices that her gradual transformation also imbues her with the strength, power, and freedom she–and every woman in Awara–always dreamed of. Ultimately, she must decide whether turning into a demon is worth leaving her old life behind.
Demons, Ghosts, And A Magpie On An Adventure
The moment I read the synopsis and saw the words “inspired by Japanese mythology,” I knew I had to read this book. Author Traci Chee does a wonderful job of incorporating Japanese culture and words into the story and setting the stage in a world full of ghosts, demons, and other eccentric creatures. Miuko, the protagonist, goes through an incredible journey of self-discovery. Geiki, the sidekick magpie, is my favourite character in the book–his lighthearted, whimsical nature added humour into a somewhat dark story. The adventures and side quests that Miuko and Geiki undertake almost felt like a video game, with new levels needing to be unlocked and different bosses to be defeated.
The introduction of many new characters in the second half of the book took away from my overall enjoyment of this novel. It was difficult to keep track of who they all were, especially when multiple names are being used for one character. While it added complexity to the overall plot, I found it to be more confusing than enjoyable.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 Brookie Stars.
I truly liked the influences of Japanese culture and have always said that the integration of native languages into fiction, especially fantasy, adds depth and layers to the story. I was impressed with the messages about the implications of patriarchy and misogyny in Awara. Chee explores what power can do for women, and the author makes readers consider what truly matters. Miuko has a choice:never be powerless again, or retain her humanity even if it means going back to a powerless existence. Seeing this theme explored in a young adult (YA) novel was a pleasant yet unexpected surprise–and I hope to see more of it in other YA books
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Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal