April 2010, Corvus
416 pages, Paperback
Young Adult, Historical/Paranormal
Themes: historical Japan, feudal system, ninjas, vampires (vampire ninjas!!!), awesome fighting skills, families united and broken, honour vs dishonour, seeing life in black and white, loyalty of friends, making enemies, misunderstanding, growing up, beauty in movement, samurai, strong and skilled heroines, fugitives, destiny, quite a bit of gruesome action, tissues needed, lots of thrills.
Summary from Atlantic Books
Taro is a boy from a coastal village in rural Japan, fated to become a fisherman like his father. But in just one night, Taro's world is turned upside down –- and his destiny is changed forever.
Skilled in the art of silent and deadly combat, ninjas are the agents of powerful nobles who rule sixteenth-century Japan. So why did a group of these highly trained assassins creep into a peasant's hut and kill Taro's father? And why did one ninja rescue Taro from their clutches, saving his life at enormous cost?
Now on the run with this mysterious saviour and his best friend Hiro, Taro is determined to learn the way of the ninja to avenge his father's death. But if they are to complete their perilous journey, Taro must first evade the wrath of the warring Lords, decipher an ancient curse, resist forbidden love - and come to terms with the blood-soaked secrets of a life lived in moonlight.
Nayuleska's reasons for loving Taro: he loses his black and white view of the world as he is shown how grey life is. He suffers from his mitakes, but shows mercy which is a good quality for a future shogan.
Is there another character who deserves a mention? All of the characters are full-bodied, but I love Hana because she is elegant and graceful in ordinary tasks and fighting, which is is good at. Plus she has a hawk as a hunting pet - as a bird lover this is a good companion to have in a book.
How evil/nasty is the enemy? Well, there's the sending of assassins to kill innocent people, there's the deception, the cold hearted killing, acting dishonourably and abandoning family. That pretty much covers it.
Are there lots of plot twists and surprises? I found myself going 'oooooo' a lot, gasping a lot, my heart beat was rapid and there were a few yay moments. Some of the brilliant twists totally surprised me.
One of my favourite parts was...when Hana was first introduced because I knew instantly that she was my character character.
This cool concept of ninjas as vampires has enough fighting in to keep me happy, there are strong hearted and also slightly idiotic heros & heroines, which means this book gets 10/10
If you like ninja vampires, try learning about vampirates (pirates who are vampires), an awesome series which starts with Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean: (I will be re-reading it shortly as I review the entire series).