Monday, June 27, 2016

Risuko by David Kudler

Risuko is the tale of Murasaki Kano, nicknamed Risuko (squirrel) for her ability to climb anything. One day, she finds that her mother sold her to Lady Chiyome, to become a "kunoichi". What a kunoichi is would be the point of the whole book, along with a subplot about a traitor in their midst.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I already knew what the Kunoichi were, and I guess that anyone interested in Japanese history would know who they were too. So the whole mystery was sort of a non-mystery for me. I did, however, enjoy the descriptions of the lessons that Risuko and the two other novices - Emi and Toumi go through.

I also liked most of the characters - especially Masugu and Mieko. It was so obvious what their bickering was about, even if Risuko didn't see it. I found it cute.

So, some complaints:

One, the chef's way of speaking. The chef is from Korea, and he speaks with what I imagine is a Texan accent. That was really odd, but then again, I think in the English dub of Detective Conan, Heiji's Kansai accent was changed to a Southern drawl too, so it's not entirely without precedent. It's still weird though. (And yay for me not needing subtitles or dubs anymore)

Second, I didn't get along well with the prologue. It felt more like a blurb to me. But it's short, so I'd just recommend everyone skip it.

Last, there was a slight inconsistency in the way lady Chiyome was addressed. Sometime, she was Lady Chiyome, at other times, she was Chiyome sama. If there was a pattern, I couldn't figure it out. There was also some unneeded repetitions, like "mukashi mukashi, long ago" (mukashi; 昔 means long ago so...) which I thought was odd.

But I did read an advance copy, so hopefully all that's been ironed out.

Despite the complaints (which are fairly minor), I enjoyed this story. The lessons that Risuko and the other two were interesting, and the subplot developed in a way that I didn't really expect, but made sense.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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