Review by Emily, high school student and bibliophile
I confess: I read the third book first, thinking it was the beginning of the series. I was hooked. In fact, I loved it so much that my friends, tired of hearing about how wonderful these books were, broke down and read them. After they were done, I do believe that they may have become slightly obsessed as well.
The stories aren't in any particular order, and can be read non-chronologically. They have the flavor of an Eastern fairy tale, with kirin and demons, legends and myths, and especially amazing talking animals. Originally written in Japanese, they retain the reserve and calm contemplation that the culture is known for, as well as the fierce ethics and a penchant for oddness. Truly, they are unique books, and lovely.
They are also widely different in size. One is 300 pages, while another weighs in at 650. The complexity of the plots varies as well, but all of the stories have, at some point, a twist that changes everything. Which I love. I love twisty plots!
But the thing that I love the most about these books is the characters. Oh, the characters. They are clever and stupid, good-hearted and chillingly evil, humorous and chivalrous, and I love them all. Even the evil ones. They make me care about them, because despite their day-and-night differences, they are fascinating.
So. They are wonderful books, and you should read them. Because good books deserve to be read - over and over until the spines wear out, and the pages grow thin, and you can practically quote whole sections by heart. Which, uh, may have happened to these books, because I love them so very much.
Market: Young Adult
Language: Some, but not, as I recall, terribly terrible
Sensuality: Mild to none
Violence: Rather a lot, actually, but not terribly gory.
Mature themes: Abandonment, family issues, and . . . that's about it.