Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale

25700544by David Kudler
YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
4 of 5 stars

This is a case of cover love becomes whole book love! Risuko was so fun for me to read! Something completely different, well-paced, and with a heroine you can’t help but love.

Kano Murasaki lives in feudal Japan. She’s never left her home or province before. All she likes to do is climb–trees, buildings, cliffs, anything that gets her as high as possible. (This earns her the nickname Risuko – squirrel). But all that changes when a mysterious old woman buys Risuko from her mother and sister and takes her to a faraway holding known as the Full Moon. There she will learn to be “a very special kind of woman.”

Risuko won me over almost immediately! She has simple desires and a strong will. She is a samurai’s daughter, and holds herself to that standard–even if her father died in disgrace. While a miko (apprentice) at the Full Moon Risuko learns many things about herself, her father, her nation, and her future. It’s hard to say more without spoilers, but this short book is a perfectly balanced coming-of-age / mystery / adventure story and I loved it!

You’ll also find female rivalry and female friendship, interesting historical figures, and Risuko’s wry sense of humor as she narrates her story. (I’ve seen this shelved as MG and YA but I would vote YA just based on the tone and some of the everyday life descriptions like butchering animals). I really can’t wait for the sequel to see how her story ends!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Risuko is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Eon by Alison Goodman – A girl disguised as a boy is training to be a candidate for bonding with one of the zodiac dragons that keeps balance in an Asian-inspired world. If she’s caught, she’ll be killed. See my review here.
  • Soundless by Richelle Mead – A small remote village faces starvation if they can’t communicate with their supplier at the mountain’s base. Fei chooses to go on a dangerous quest to save her sister and her community. See my review here.
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard – The tight pacing and writing of Risuko reminded me a lot of this book, and that’s really why I’m including it here. This is the nonstop race of Safi and Iseult as three different factions try to claim Safi’s truth-telling abilities for their own use. See my review here.
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke – A fun story set in historic Venice as young brothers Prosper and Bo try to survive on the streets. Then they meet Scipio, who gives them a home and slowly reveals tantalizing secrets of the city.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Kudler
    Oct 09, 2016 @ 12:52:30

    Thanks so much for your review! I’m glad that you enjoyed Risuko — and intrigued by some of the books you compared it to. Have to check some of those out!

    Liked by 1 person


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