January 2009, Oxford University Press
300 pages, Paperback
Yunaleska's overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from OUP
Across the Nightingale Floor for younger readers.
Kai Provence, Japan. 1216.
Hana and Kimi are delighted when their heroic uncle, Hidehira, arrives at their palace, along with his dashing army of Samurai soldiers. He is their father's right hand man, a guardian and protector who helps him govern the land on behalf of the Shogun.
So when Hidehira and his army slaughter their father and elder brothers, the girls are stunned.
As the palace burns around them and servants are put to the sword, Hana and Kimi have to fight for their very survival. They manage to escape - just - but are separated from their mother and youngest brother.
Now the whole country is searching for them - and anyone who helps them will be put to death. The girls must disguise themselves and find somewhere to hide out. And their solution is so daring - and so obvious - that it will either work brilliantly or end in their deaths.
Betrayal, heroism and avenging their father's murder will hover at the edge of every thing the sisters do from now on...
I'm shortly becoming an addict to Samurai/Ninja stories - I love them! They hit the top of my list when the main protagonists are female. And the comment about Across the Nightingale Floor by Liam Hearn is true. There is no safety in Hana and Kimi's world. They have a great talent for fighting, but when they first set out it isn't enough to overthrow their Uncle, no matter what the hot-headed Hana wishes to do.
Each of the twins has a unique personality - Kimi is quieter but this actually makes her deadlier than her sister. Hana is the one who looks out for them both, but when the need arises Kimi faces her enemies with as great a will as her sister. I loved the small gesture of affection between the two of them which crops up throughout the book - touching hands lightly had me welling up. They love each other and their family dearly. Thankfully there are a few people watching out for them - not that the twins know this, at least not for a while. Gaining skills at the samurai school is only the beginning of their adventure.
Oh - I really love their kimonos on the front cover!