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The Name of the Blade #1

The Night Itself

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A breathtaking new urban fantasy trilogy from the critically acclaimed, award winning author of The Swan Kingdom and Shadows on the Moon.

When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.

The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.

The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.

Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.

With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

368 pages, Paperback

First published June 20, 2013

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About the author

Zoë Marriott

15 books782 followers
Zoë has known that she wanted to be a writer since she read 'The Magic Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton at age eight. She's never changed her mind in all the years since then.

She completed her first manuscript - a truly embarrassing romance novel - at age sixteen, and kept on writing books and submitting them until she had collected rejections from nearly very publisher in the UK and two in Australia. She eventually got her first publishing contract when she was twenty-two - but had to wait until she was twenty-four to see that book published (The Swan Kingdom). Her books have been longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and the Lancashire Book of the Year, and have won a Junior Library Guild Selection, a USBBY Outstanding International Listing, the Hillingdon Book Award and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Prize. Over the years she's worked as an admin assistant, a dental nurse, a civil servant, and a reader for a literary scout. She has designed and run over one hundred creative writing workshops in schools and libraries, and from 2017-19 she was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York St. John University.

She lives in a little house in a town by the sea, with a manic spaniel called Ruskin (otherwise known as Demon Dog, Trash Puppy, Snaggletooth, or the supervillain in training) and far too many books. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the Open University, and working on her first novel for adults.

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Profile Image for Zoë Marriott.
Author 15 books782 followers
November 1, 2014
First, an apology. I've just had it brought to my attention that at one point in this book, a character describes another character (who is Japanese) as having almond-shaped eyes. Now, when I read this, my reaction was 'That can't be right, surely - I'm well aware that this is a stupid, inaccurate, cliched and borderline racist description. MY eyes are almond-shaped. Asian people's eyes are most emphatically NOT.' And yet, when I went and checked... there the description was. HOW?!? How did this manage to not only come out of my brain but slip by me, through, like, eight edits of various kinds? I have no idea. It should not be in there. I'm very sorry. I messed up and I will work hard to ensure it doesn't happen again. I hope you will forgive me, readers. If not, please feel free to excoriate me in the comments.

***HERE BE SPOILERS*** Answers to some questions about the book that I come across quite often in my blog comments, on Twitter, and sometimes in emails. If you haven't read the book, look away now! ***HERE BE SPOILERS***

QUESTION ONE: Shinobu comes from Feudal Japan. How come he speaks pretty normal 21st Century English and basically doesn't go into shock and pass out when he sees cars/skyscrapers etc.?

ANSWER: Very well spotted! The answer is that although Shinobu has been trapped in the sword all that time, for the last six years of his life - ever since Mio first touched the sword and 'awakened' him - he's been hanging out with Mio constantly as silent observer. He's been with her at school, at home, watching TV, arguing with her dad, having fun with friends. He saw the world through her eyes. I imagine that at first he was completely bewildered and couldn't understand anything that was going on. But he's a very smart guy, and probably after a year or so he began to pick up the language and observe the structures and underlying rules of this strange world that he was watching, and to realise that he was looking at what was, to him, the future. This is why he knew Jack's name, could operate a fire extinguisher, and was generally able to cope with being suddenly tipped out into present day Britain reasonably well.

QUESTION TWO: I like Mio and Shinobu and everything but...WHY did it have to be INSTA-LOVE (eugh)?

ANSWER: Well, personally I prefer to call it love at first sight - and that's a classic literary device that's been explored by many talented writers for hundreds of years, long before YA paranormal romances gave it a bad name. My reasoning for wanting to explore the emotional rush and pitfalls of love at first sight are spelled out here. http://thezoe-trope.blogspot.co.uk/20...

There's also a lot more going on between Mio and Shinobu than simple love at first sight. There's a mystery to be solved and secrets about Shinobu's past to uncover. But you'll need to read all three books to see what I was going for there.

QUESTION THREE: If Hikaru is a Japanese Kitsune, why does he have red hair and green eyes?

ANSWER: Many characters in Japanese mythology, fairytales, and current media have red hair and light eyes. Yep, honestly. For instance, traditionally, red hair is considered bad luck, and in historical stories red-headed kids often get abandoned in the woods so that they don't bring misfortune to their villages. But regardless of this, Hikaru's not actually human. He's an immortal fox spirit indigenous to the spirit realm. His ethnicity is not directly analogous to any human racial group. As you can see in the scenes in the Court of the Kitsune, the foxes there are really diverse. They come from all over their own world. But none of them are actually Japanese (or English or Russian or Arctican) although their fox forms may resemble animals native to those regions on earth.

QUESTION FOUR: Is Hikaru bisexual? Is Jack totally into girls or does Hikaru maybe have a chance there?

You'll have to read all three books to get the answers. Sorry!
Profile Image for Mango.
237 reviews314 followers
June 10, 2021
“Have you ever been hit in the face? Really hit? So your head snapped back and you landed on your rear end wondering what the hell happened? You don’t actually feel it at first. The harder the blow is, the more numb you go. I mean, your face just seems to disappear, and for a minute you think your eyes are going to drop right out of their sockets because they’re the only thing that still seems to be working."

~1.5 stars~

I bet you guys are wondering, "Jeez, Mango, since when you are so critical?"

I totally understand your query. My average rating is 4.76.

The answer is, "I don't know. I just feel picky."

Guys? Do NOT read this. Like seriously, it's not worth it.

This book just didn't do it for me. I was expecting a Percy Jackson version of Japanese mythology. Oh my God, I was wrong. This book had a boring main character, inconsistent pacing, and annoying writing. The only thing I liked was the plot, and that was only at the end. Don't even get me started on the romance.

Okay, I will start with the plot:

The plot was...okay. I kind of liked it? Mio, the main character, goes to a costume party as some anime character. She then remembers something that happened a couple years ago, back when her grandfather was alive. Her grandfather had shown her a family heirloom: a katana. He told Mio not to touch it without his supervision, until she turned 16. When she was 16, she was free to touch it. Unfortunately, her grandpa died a couple days after telling her this.

Back to the present, Mio wants to take the sword to the costume party, even though she's not 16. She goes against her better judgment and decides to be a moron. She takes the sword, and goes to the party with her best friend Jack. She shows off the katana to everyone, and ends up unleashing an evil Japanese monster: the Nekomata.

So now, with her best friend Jack, and a mysterious 500 year old man, Shinobu, Mio must go and defeat the Nekomata.

Now that sounds pretty good right? Almost Percy Jackson material. And I will say the plot was pretty good.

The book started off pretty fast, got really slow in the middle, and picked up in the end. So I was only really invested in the plot at the beginning, and at the end. In the middle, I was just forcing myself through.

There weren't many plot twists, and like mentioned before, the plot was sort of like Percy Jackson. I wish I could have enjoyed the plot more, but Mio ruined it. Being in her head was so annoying it ruined the story for me.

Speaking of Mio, let's go over the characters:

Mio: I didn't like her. I wouldn't go as far to say I hated her, but I didn't like her. I can't come up with one single characteristic to describe her without sounding biased.

Here are the words I would describe her as:

Uh, yeah you get the idea. Okay, fine, I guess she was determined and stubborn, but that's about it. And I just couldn't stand being inside her head. She wasn't the sharpest pencil in the drawer. She had this thing of manipulating people by sounding all innocent, which I found quite unnerving. And she kept doing it, never learning her lesson.

So...I know I told you I love flawed characters, and watching them grow. So, I was excited to read about Mio, since she was FULL of flaws which needed to be fixed.

The sad thing is, she didn't grow. She kept doing selfish things, manipulating people, and at the end, when one of her last thoughts was how she was going to lie to her parents to cover up the damage done to their house when a monster attacked.

I get that telling your parents that a monster attacked your house might not be very convincing, but it still unsettled me to know that she didn't even consider telling the truth.

And after she met Shinobu, she completely lost it.

She kept mentioning how mUsCuLaR and lEaN he is. She also mentioned his HeArTbReAkInG sMiLe and that he smells like PiNeCoNeS. Like okay. He exercises, smiles, and smells like pinecones. I don't see the point of making his appearance, smile, and scent 50% of the plot.

So yeah, I found her really annoying.

Jack: Jack was probably my favorite character. She is Mio's best friend. And Jack just bursts with personality! Here is her list of characteristics.


She sounds pretty cool right? And she wasn't even a total Mary Sue! She had flaws too, like being impulsive. Very impulsive. And throughout the book she definitely grew. She matured, and started to think using her head and learned not to act brashly. And Jack was an amazing friend to Mio, despite all the mistakes she made.

Definitely my favorite character! Anyone with a snarky personality is a friend of mine XD.

Shinobu: Shinobu was alright. I genuinely liked him. Shinobu is kind, considerate, and clever. I think he was a bit like a Gary Stu though. I can't think of any flaws that he had. I don't have much to say about him, but I really liked him. He is honestly the only reason Mio is alive lol. He kept having to save Mio from her stupid decisions.

I did not see much growth in him, but he was nice enough.

Moving on to the writing:

No. I did not the writing at all. There were some things I liked, but overall the writing was...meh.

The writing was a little bit racist, classifying Asians with "almond-shaped eyes." Like uh, anyone can have almond-shaped eyes?

And then there were the sexist parts. Well, I wouldn't go as far as calling it sexist. But it did get on my nerves. Take a look at this:

"OK, that's enough of that," she said finally, her voice trembling, as she pushed me away. "Don't be such a girl."

Okay, so I wouldn't have really cared if this only showed up once in the book. But the thing is, is showed up multiple times throughout the book. And I got to be frank, it kind of got me angry. I mean it kind of sounded like being a "girl" is a bad thing.

I'm sorry, but I am a proud female. I feel like I'm overreacting to this, but whatever. It's my opinion XD.

And don't even get me started on the pacing. It just didn't make sense. Apparently, this book lasted a little more than 24 hours. That just doesn't seem right. So many things happened, and I could have sworn the author described the night two different times. It could just be my sucky memory, but I don't know the pacing was just wrong.

Another thing about the pacing. The book started off pretty fast, and I loved that. I was quite engrossed in it actually. But, towards the middle it got really slow. I was bored out of my mind and was dragging myself through it. The middle was literally Mio swooning over Shinobu. Like uh, no thank you. However, at the end it picked up and I appreciated it.

Let me say one thing I did like. I did appreciate the LGBTQ+ representation. One of the characters, Jack, is a lesbian, and I got to say, she was portrayed quite well. Like, I said before, she was my favorite character. If only she was the main character...that would have made things so much better.

I almost never make a section for this, but let's cover the romance:

The romance was completely unrealistic. Period. It was 100% insta-love. I mean think about it. You meet a guy within 24 hours, you're in love with him and by fluke he's in love with you. That doesn't make any sense. Like throughout the whole book Mio was talking about how great Shinobu is and Shinobu kept indirectly flirting with her.

Umm...yeah so I didn't really enjoy the romance.

So overall, I didn't care much for the book. I have decided to give one star to Jack, and half a star to Shinobu.

I guess I will continue the series if I have time. But I have no interest in continuing it at the moment.
Ummm. This book had a lot of flaws. Review to come.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,016 followers
November 20, 2014
I'm a huge fan of Zoe Marriott, I absolutely love her writing style and have been waiting to get my hands on The Night Itself since I first heard about it over a year ago. As you can imagine I had high expectations for this novel and I'm happy to say Zoe that absolutely smashed them! This is a fabulous start to her first urban fantasy series - you have strong, independent characters, great supportive friendships, a hot boy, lots of action and sword fights, wonderful use of Japanese mythology and it's set in London! What more can you ask for? My only disappointment is that I've got to wait another year for the next instalment.

Before he died Mio's grandfather showed her an ancient katana (Japanese sword) that has been protected by members of her family for over 500 years. He promised her that on her 16th birthday the sword would belong to her but warned her that she must always keep its existence a secret and told her to keep it hidden and protected. In the years since Mio hasn't been able to stop thinking about the sword but she has stuck to her grandfather's rules and hasn't touched it. Days before her birthday she comes up with the perfect excuse to bring out the sword though - it would be the ideal accessory for her fancy dress costume! She justifies her actions by telling herself that it will be hers in a matter of days anyway and with her parents away who is to know that she took it a couple of days early? But she has forgotten her grandfather's warning and removing the sword from its hiding place has consequences she never could have imagined. Now with demons roaming the streets of London it is up to Mio to find a way to stop them and her first task is learning just what the sword is capable of.

I have to say I loved Mio, she is such a strong character who is more than capable of defending herself when she needs to. She has a fantastic friend in Jack and the two girls are inseparable and always supportive of each other. Neither of them has had it easy but they have each other to rely on and their friendship has seen them through the difficult times. Jack added a lot of humour to the story and I really enjoyed the interactions between them. Mysterious Japanese warrior Shinobu was another great character and the relationship between him and Mio was great, they do develop feelings for each other quite quickly but it is a testament to Zoe Marriott's skills that I didn't even notice that until I sat back to reflect on the book after I finished reading it. I'm not usually a fan of insta-love but in this case it was done so well that it felt completely natural and believable and left me looking forward to spending more time with them both as the series continues.

I've already mentioned that the story was action packed and full of mythology but I have to tell you how much I loved the addition of the Kitsune characters, Hikaru in particular was a favourite and he stole nearly every scene he appeared in. I don't want to spoil the story by telling you much about them so you'll just have to read the book for yourself to learn more! If you've ever wanted to see demons on the loose in London then you're going to love The Night Itself. There are some truly creepy moments along with fantastic fight scenes full of magic, kendo moves and sword fighting. I was gripped from the first page and I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment!
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews806 followers
July 4, 2017
5 Words: Fantasy, monsters, family, history, friendship.

This is my second Zoë Marriott book and I am fast falling in love.

As much as this is an urban-fantasy, it also has a healthy dose of mystery and folklore and history. It's as much about the past as it is the present.

I loved the different relationships within the pages, how Mio interacted with her friends and family, and how that changed as the story progressed. It felt very natural for her feelings and attitude to change in the ways that they did.

I do feel that it ended a little prematurely - it wrapped up *just* enough to keep me going until I can get my hands on the next one.

Full review to come.
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,256 reviews819 followers
Want to read
November 7, 2022
I just started reading this great trilogy; this is the first book and it's epic! If you love old Japanese anime mixed with modern days this is for you! It tells a story of a teenage girl who tries to balance a normal life as a sheltered daughter of a weird upbringing, she is the daughter of one of Japan's most powerful clans, she embarks on a dangerous journey to learn the truth about her family and her own destiny with the Samurai traditions of her ancestors.

Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,060 reviews16 followers
March 15, 2015
To see complete review with gifs click here.

YA and Asian mythology do not mix. I’ve never seen it done correctly. All of the books I’ve read, have all been over hyped and then essentially Twilight in Asia.

And The Twilight Saga is over ten years now. That’s how stale these tropes are.

So, why use those with an Asian inspired paranormal, I ask?

Like The Name of the Blade. It could’ve been interesting. I could’ve finished it very easily if it didn’t rely so heavily on these tropes.

The interesting this though, is that I’ve had discussions with other people about tropes. They’re almost a part of YA, you’re going to have them regardless of how original the book claims. And I’ll admit it, I like some tropes. But what I don’t like is short cut tropes-aka instant love.

And the whole in love with an object/animal that the narrator personifies as human and then low and behold becomes human.

I always hate those sort of stories.

I think it’s why I never finished The Shiver trilogy. When Mio started obsessing over the sword, I sort of knew I was a goner.

I should’ve known from the premiss though, it reeked cliche. But the thing is, I’d have been okay with a little cliche. Some cliche would’ve been nice and good.

And there I go back to the elephant in the room.

The cliches.

I feel like a lot of YA genres have been so influenced by cliches, that it just makes reading less than enjoyable it seems like a chore.

And that’s what The Name of the Blade felt like to me. A chore.

I wasn’t reading it to get compelling characters, or an amazing plot. Because hello, I’ve already read it already. It was more or less a rehashing of the same story.

Can I just say something?

I’m tired of that feeling. Tired of feeling like I read it before and what’s the point of reading it again. It makes me feel like I’m in a hamster will. A hamster will of never ending YA paranormals where the exact thing happens over and over again.

To reiterate: Twilight is about a decade old now.

Why are we still following this formula?

I have no idea, but what I do know is that books like The Name of Blade that have an interesting premises and use a mythology that most Westerners aren’t familiar with seem to have been hit the worst by this.

I theorize its because the editors want the audience to have a foot hold in something, The Twilight Saga. But it really seems quite silly. With proper world building it’s very easy to get use other types of mythology. After all, lots of fantasy rely on made up mythologies so I really don’t see using Asian mythology is going to throw off a reader enough where you have to have a Twilight plot.

But that’s what it seems.

Sigh…in the end I ended up DNF-ing this one. It wasn’t horribly written. There were some occasional moments where I smiled, but there was nothing truly original about it and I was bored.

So there you go.
Profile Image for Andrew.
839 reviews134 followers
June 4, 2013
I am very honoured that Walker Books (aka the UK publisher) gave me a VERY early and VERY exclusive ARC of Zoe's latest book. Thank you!

I can't talk about the book (been asked not to) but I was given the OK to say I have read it. NOTHING MORE!

Review will be up nearer the publication date (or when I'm told it's ok!)

EDIT: 3rd June 2013

I CAN TALK TO YOU GUYS ABOUT THIS BOOK NOW! (aka Particular Review Taken From The Pewter Wolf)

When Mio steals her late grandfather's katana - a priceless sword that is meant to be keep hidden at all times - all she was doing was livening up her fancy dress costume. Not unleash an ancient evil, determined to get it from her at all cost, onto modern day London! And now, not only has Mio started to be stalked from creatures from mythical Japanese myths, she somehow unleashed a mysterious warrior that wants to save her and keep her safe. But Mio has to figure it out. Figure out the katana's strange powers. But lives are on the line, and she seems to be only one worthy enough to save them...

Am going to get straight to the point on this: I ADORE THIS BOOK!

I just fell for it, hook line and sinker. I kinda guess I would but I didn't expect I would so quickly and get so addictive over it till I did. There was one point I took this book out to my local coffee shop with my other half (he had his iPad). I got so sucked into the chapter I was reading, I didn't hear him ask me the same question several times before he had to poke me in the arm. That was how absorbed I was in this book and I don't think I've had that feeling with a book for quite a while. To vanish from the world.

As I read this back in April and several months have passed, I can't remember if I had any issues with this book, but OH! The Questions! I have questions which I hope will be answered in the next two books in the trilogy. And AT LAST, we see characters that the author didn't have to spell out the sexuality or skin ethnicity. She didn't have to use a sledgehammer and drum the point home! She treated her readers with respect and for that, Zoe, I thank you.

I thought while read it back in April (and still do now) that if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and/or Infernal Devices series, that you might want to check this book out. Just... trust me on this, ok?

PS - I'm sorry but whenever Mio thought of her katana as "Mine", I always imagined Gollum saying it in my head. Preciousssss....
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
826 reviews207 followers
July 22, 2015
When I first opened The Night Itself, I was in the middle of another book with a waiting list at the library, so I thought I would read just the first couple pages for a taste. Well, ha. I was sucked in from the opening line, and the next thing I knew, I'd finished this book and not the one I'd intended to.

The characters are great. Mio is completely engaging with her combination of cute and snarky; and wise-cracking Jack is more of an equal team member than a "sidekick." I loved the way Mio and Jack work so well together; Jack's love for her sister; the mystery surrounding Shinobu; all of the Kitsune; and especially the intriguing and tricky sparks between Jack and Hikaru. The mythology, from the meshed history of the katana and Shinobu to the amazing vision of Spirit London (I want a poster!), is well-developed and completely pulled me in. And as you might guess from my first paragraph, the action was non-stop and exciting. There was no easy place to put this book down.

I've read and loved all of Zoe Marriott's books, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this departure from her high fantasy settings. But I think this trilogy, so different from her previous style but still so strongly in her voice, is going to become a favorite. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!
Profile Image for Miss Clark.
2,552 reviews200 followers
February 6, 2015
1.5 stars

First in a trilogy. (Spoiler - I won't be finishing the trilogy.)

Oh, book. You made me laugh. But not because you ever meant to and I shall explain why.

Bottom line - This is not good. I found it to lack any immediacy, meaning or attraction.

Introducing Mio as a deceptive, disobedient teenager who attends a party in her parents' absence (with no greater motivation than wanting to party) is not a great way to introduce your lead. Especially since the parents seemed like good parents. It works if parents come across as mean, unreasonable, etc. But when they are a rare caring set of parents, it just makes the misbehaving teen look bratty. (And teens, like individuals of all ages, are certainly capable of such behavior. I just don't find it engaging.)

That said, her dad was weirdly strict/unkind/mistrusting toward Mio at times and that was Never explained. Simply because his own father took such an interest in Mio and trained her? We never find out. Which struck me as a missed opportunity to expand upon Mio's family and formative influences. Her mother clearly loves her, but I was unsure of her dad. I got a weird vibe from their interactions.

Anyways, Mio wants to go to the party and she lies to her parents and the family friend who is looking after her while they are away in France. And then, after being told VERY SPECIFICALLY to NEVER take the katana out, she takes the precious family heirloom with her as part of her costume. Anything bad that results from this? I don't feel an iota of sympathy. Not only was she warned not to do exactly what she just did, she does it solely to look cool at a function she is lying to even attend.

So, to utterly no one's surprise, bad things happen as a result of Mio's choice. And so she tries to put the sword back, hoping that will set all to rights.

I could feel the katana pulsing faintly in my grip, and a deep, thankful sigh shuddered out of me. I hugged it close.
You're all right. I've got you now. I've got you.
I won't let you go again.
I won't ever, ever let you go.

Ignoring the logistical problems that would ensue if Mio in fact never ever again lets go of the sword, I would like to take a moment to consider the level of emotion she is displaying.

It. Is. A. Sword. A pretty sword, but it is just an object. I myself might be mildly concerned about my attachment to such an item.

Before long a cute Asian boy from the feudal age of Japan pops out of the sword and the most mystical of mystical love connections transcending centuries and consciousness springs into being between Mio and Shinobu, the thing trapped in the sword. (His complete humanity is debatable.)

The main trio is on the run from a Japanese cat demon that wants the sword and are chilling at a coffee-shop listening to Shinobu's life story when my absolute favorite passage appears.

I wanted to climb over the table to him. To put my arms around him. To tell him that it was all right now, it would be all right. Anything to make him sit up out of that defensive ball of agony and open his eyes again.

So, just picture that. That mental image of her just climbing over the table.

Why not just get up and go to him? Maybe two or three steps. Would you really want to climb over the table to comfort him? Never met that you met roughly twelve hours ago. Just why? Why would she want to clamber over the furniture? Seems unduly awkward and logistically would likely result in spilling all their drinks.

Another gem:
My gaze connected with Shinobu's. There was a physical jolt, like two magnets jumping together. Like two perfect musical notes meeting and singing as one.

Yes, there were multifarious descriptions scattered throughout the text to remind us of their mystical and oh-so-electrifying connection! They are metaphors of a similar caliber.

And another vivid mental image comes courtesy of this section. So, Shinobu is alive against all odds and he and Mio are engaging in some post-heroics snogging. Fine. But wait for it....

He brought our mouths together again. My sobs shook him. His lips were so warm as they parted mine. Trails of sparks flowed gently down my back in the wake of his hands as they moved to clasp my waist. Sobs turned into gasps. He drank them from my mouth.

What? The gasps? As weird/quasi-gross the drinking of sobs is, the drinking of gasps in an actual physical impossibility.

A gasp is defined as to inhale suddenly with the mouth open, out of pain or astonishment.

I defy anyone to actually drink an inhalation of air. Pray tell me how this feat was achieved.

I liked the elements of Japanese folklore and mythology that were included, from the kitsune to the nekomata, but I could not get past these characters, the lack of clear information and the romance/24 hours eternal love/mystical connection between Mio and Shinobu. Oh, and the writing, in case you had any doubts by this point.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Natasha Ngan.
Author 7 books3,391 followers
June 24, 2013
I love Japanese mythology, so I was super excited about reading this book and it definitely did not disappoint! Beautiful Studio Ghibli-esque settings, characters full of personality and life, and a story that you can just sense is going to unfurl amazingly over the trilogy.
Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews11 followers
February 19, 2015
I'm really not sure how to feel about The Night Itself. I'm kind of stuck right smack in the middle of "I enjoyed it" and "it was just okay." Because when I was reading it, I did enjoy it well enough. But when I put it down, I found myself finding other things to do with my time. For context, I should have finished a book this size in a week, at the most. But instead it took me two weeks.

Really, the most interesting concept here is the world building surrounding Japanese mythology, but that's probably more to do with the lack of Japanese lore (or non-Western lore in general) found in YA in the first place than any brilliance on the book's part.

Otherwise you have your fairly standard "chosen one" main character and a magical artifact that has to be protected from the Big Bad.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. It's a fairly typical set-up and there are many books that I've enjoyed immensely that utilize the same structure. The difference is that those books take that structure and add various unique twists to it and/or they have super fantastic characters and world-building.

Sadly, The Night Itself runs its "chosen one" plot fairly straight and the characters... well, they aren't bad. They're fun and sweet and brave. But they aren't interesting, either. They don't have a lot of layers. I could describe each character in about a sentence, and that'd be it. There's also a dreaded "insta-love" romance, and while it's not nearly as exasperating here - due to the characters involved actually being sweet and decent - it's still eye-roll inducing.

Basically, The Night Itself is completely average, on almost all accounts. I can't really find anything negative to say about it, but on the flip side, the only really positive aspect that stands out for me is that it doesn't have any of the typical gross YA cliches found in a lot of its peers.

Would I fervently recommend it? Um, no, not really.
Would I stop you from reading it? Nope, knock yourself out.
It's not a waste of your time. It's just not necessary to read before you die, either.
Profile Image for Rayne.
862 reviews288 followers
July 20, 2013
3.5 stars

Bleach meets Ruroni Kenshin meets Inuyasha meets Blood+

Sounds like an otaku/YA reader ultimate fantasy, doesn't it?

The Night itself is definitely entertaining, full of action in a rapid face and with a lot of Japanese mythology that will sure speak to fans of anime. Actually, this book is exactly like an anime, and it probably would've worked a whole lot better in that format. I'm not saying the book is bad, but the execution of the concept left me a bit unsatisfied. Last year I read Shadows on the Moon by this very same author and I loved it. I certainly did not expect this book to be like that one, but I was actually surprised at how different it is in style. For me, Shadows on the Moon was a lot more refined in the writing and delved a bit deeper in the characterization. Here, the protagonists were not unlikable, but I had a hard time caring enough for them as to be fully invested in reading non-stop. I felt like Mio was a bit immature and that Shinobu lacked a lot of development. Jack as a secondary character was okay but the only character I can claim to have genuinely liked is Hikaru. Moreover, the first half of the novel drags a bit. After the second half, the plot, the action and the pace really picked up, but by then my interest had waned a bit. As one can expect of Marriott, her writing is solid, even if it is not as lovely as it was in Shadows on the Moon, and the way she handles the Japanese elements is graceful and well-researched. I liked this book, just not as much as I thought I would, so I still can't say with certainty if I will pick up the sequel or not.
Profile Image for Silvia .
15 reviews
Want to read
January 29, 2012
I just finished a couple of weeks ago Shadows on the Moon and love it, and now I find out about this book. I had the luck to be able to read the book while traveling around Japan and I kept remembering the book as I walked through Kyoto streets.

Being myself a lover of Asian culture, secially Japanese and Korean, I really enjoyed reading Shadows on the Moon and I fell in love with the writing and the world Zoë created.It's not easy to find good YA books with a Japanese theme (or at least for me)and this one really standed our for me.
I just can't wait to read her new book The Night Itself.
Profile Image for Farah Cook.
Author 5 books445 followers
March 24, 2017
This book was ok, and takes place in London. The plot sounds more intriguing than what it is, and the character was alright. I still enjoyed he read, fast paced and moves forward.
Profile Image for Emma.
35 reviews4 followers
June 28, 2013
4.5 stars

I have been a faithful follower of Zoë Marriott’s blog since she started it in 2010, and have been a fan of her books even before then, so needless today I was VERY excited for the release of The Night Itself. So, after checking Amazon pretty much every day just in case the release date had been moved forward, I was pretty much ecstatic when I found out that the Kindle edition has been released a whole week early! So my expectations were incredibly high.

And it didn’t disappoint.

Mio’s unique voice comes through from the first page, and I knew that I had a character strong enough – three dimensional enough – to carry the story. In fact, each character was fully developed – it is clear that these are all characters that the author has taken time not only develop, but to get to know (if that makes any sense at all!). It was great to read a story, where not only the heroine and hero are strong characters, but the entire supporting cast.

Zoë has mentioned a couple of times, how in telling this story she wanted to prove that insta-love can be a successful and powerful literary device when done properly. And, boy did she succeed in a kicking the reader in the heart kind of way. The relationship between Mio and Shinobu is not only believable but super sweet, mutual – and at times heart-wrenching. Their relationship in the course of this book spans less than twenty-four hours, and yet I read the book in less than this time and it was long enough for me to fall in love too!

Jack and Mio’s friendship was the kind of relationship everybody needs in their life, and Jack herself was probably my favourite character. She is a badass (of course! What would a Zoë Marriott novel be without super strong female characters?!) but also very vulnerable, and I have a feeling that we are going to be seeing more of the feelings hidden beneath the surface as the series progresses. Jack’s sexuality is simply a part of her character, it is not supposed to be scandalous, or an attempt on the author’s behalf to be outrageous – it is just her. And whilst one very charming male (though not quite human!) character is clearly falling for Jack’s allure – and I really don’t want him to get his heart broken – it is clear that Jack cannot simply turn, and it would be quite an insult to her as a character if this did happen. Not that I think that this will happen – quite the opposite, in fact.

But that's okay, because then more Hikaru for me!

And I haven’t even mentioned the magic yet! This book does for Japanese myth what Rick Riordan has done for Greek (which is completely a compliment – RR is awesome) and brings ancient legend into the twenty-first century. Once more, Zoe presents us with a complex world of magic, with its own rules. It is exciting, as we watch start Mio grow into her magical potential – but at times it is also just plain creepy. The nine-tailed cat demon is at time terrifying. There is definitely a touch of horror in some of the scenes, which had me seeing shadows moving towards me when I was reading it in bed last night. The freakiest scenes are those short passages which do not focus on Mio, but on the victims of the demon. These read like a scene from a horror movie in the way that the suspense is built up until the climax we know is coming. Yet, unlike a horror movie, these scenes aren’t about cheap scares as Zoe manages to make us care even about these characters that only appear in a few paragraphs.
There are a lot of questions still to be answered (The Harbinger???) – and the rest of this story is set up to be EPIC – but I want it NOW!!!! The ending was slightly abrupt, but I can see that it needed to be because of the condensed time frame of the whole series. Nevertheless, I am left with that feeling that I have every time I read the first in series I love – which is pure impatience!

Fans of Zoë Marriott’s former books will devour this as her beautiful writing is on top form – you can tell that each phrase has been carefully chosen though made to seem effortless when you read it. However, it is so different to the other novels that even those readers who aren’t the biggest fans of the previous books (maybe because they’re not fans of High Fantasy) will enjoy this too.
Profile Image for Isabel.
78 reviews
July 31, 2013
Initial Thoughts:
Wowee. Zoe Marriott never disappoints, and this book just blew me away as always! Review/fangirly rant to come once I'm feeling more articulate!

In the meantime, go do yourself a huge favor, if you haven't already, and buy this book. Like, right now.

It's always hard for me to write reviews of books I love this much, because no matter how much I write I can never seem to do them justice. But here goes anyway!

The Night Itself is very different from Zoe's past books, and when I initially heard she was coming out with an urban fantasy trilogy I was surprised and intrigued. But I loved this book just as much, if not more, than her high fantasy books (with the exception of Shadows on the Moon, of course, which I just adore more than pretty much any other book).

I just loved all the characters in this book! They're the perfect mix of hilarious, adorable, and totally kick-ass. Mio has a really strong voice as the main character that grabbed me from page one, and the writer gives every character, even more minor ones, such depth, complexity and realness that I felt connected with them and their story. Every character has an important and driving role in the story. Even Mio's grandfather, who we only get snippets of from the past, was undoubtedly an important presence in Mio's life and in the book, and their connection was believable for the reader. In fact, all the bonds between the characters felt very real. The friendship between Mio and Jack was something that I could tell was special and strong from the very first chapter, as was the sisterly love between Jack and her sister, Rachel. It's been a while since I've seen an author use "insta-love" so shamelessly in a book and have it be convincing and deep. Shinobu was a very unique character and his bond with Mio was really believable. This is definitely the best romance Zoe's written yet!

It was interesting how the author handled time in this book. Definitely unlike her other books, which take place over more elongated periods of time, TNI takes place over barely more than 24 hours. Despite this, character development was believable and, even though this is the first in a trilogy, it had a satisfying story arc and ending.

The humor in this book was also something new that the author used so well! Without taking away from the more serious moments and the depth of the story and characters, Mio, Jack, and Hikaru especially had me laughing out loud constantly.

I was amazed at how Zoe used setting in this story. The scenes set in London/"the real world" were so cool to read because this is her first urban fantasy book, and it was awesome to be able to associate places and scenes in the book with landmarks in real life (like the Battersea Power Station). But even better than that was how she handled the parallel world, which I think is called the spirit realm. The way it's described in the book is unique, vivid and breathtaking. Reading those scenes just had me squeeing in delight, because I rarely see that kind of description in other books! And the characters found in the spirit realm just added to the awesome.

Zoe Marriott takes so many stereotypes of YA urban fantasy and all of the over-used themes that I thought had been worn thin by so many other authors, and makes them original and exciting again in TNI. There are also so many unique aspects to this book. I especially loved how Japanese mythology was incorporated in the book. All-in-all, I just adored The Night Itself. Zoe's prose, her characters, and the worlds and stories she creates with all her books just stun and enchant me every time I read! I'm so anxious to get Darkness Hidden in my hands as soon as it's released next summer, which can't come soon enough!

If you live in the US like me and want to get The Night Itself in your hands even though it hasn't been released here, you can get it with free shipping from the Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Night-I...
Profile Image for Big Book Little Book.
333 reviews122 followers
June 4, 2013
Caroline for www.bigbooklittlebook.com
Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

I don’t travel well. If my mode of transportation doesn’t consist of my own two feet, or a vehicle I am steering then there is a good chance it will inspire nausea. In the case of flying it will also inspire a racing pulse, breathlessness, fidgeting and sweaty palms. It’s not that I have an irrational fear of flying (well, not really) it’s just that I take no pleasure from spending hours in an uncomfortable enclosed space, traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, miles off of the ground in a tin can (see I’m completely rational).

This spring, in order to spend time with my gorgeous niece on her first birthday, I had to undertake my first unaccompanied flight. Prior to now I have always had friends, my husband and/or my children as travel companions to distract, entertain and soothe me. Knowing my travel weakness I prepared to endure the experience and counteract my bodies ‘fight or flight’ response with fiction. As a result I have spent the last couple of weeks considering the pros and cons of The Night Itself as an inanimate travel companion.


Time suck.
Having arrived at the airport earlier than the compulsory one hour prior to my flight, I settled down in a coffee shop with a large latte and my gorgeous ARC in the hope of occupying myself until it was time to board my flight. Zoe immediately grabbed my attention with Mio’s distinctive voice and the foreshadowing of trouble. Once captured, my attention was retained by the humorous dialogue, the realistic relationships, an action packed pacey plot, original world building and the compelling mystery of the Katana.

Unfortunately for me, I got a little too involved in the storyline and I missed the initial publication of my boarding gate number. This resulted in me having to run (an activity that does not come naturally) for my gate in order to make my flight.


Laughing, smirking, swooning

One way I’ve found to reduce my anxiety is through the experience of other emotions, I can’t panic if I’m laughing (unless it’s the nervous or hysterical variety of course!).

I identified with Mio’s distinctively British voice. Her humour, observations and turn of phrase, had me smirking along with her and I couldn’t help but love the banter between Mio and her feisty BFF Jack. In fact while I loved the action, the character development and the world building of The Night Itself, what I enjoyed the most were the relationships. Whether functional and supportive or estranged, established or developing, past or present, familial, platonic or romantic, it was the relationships, which grounded the story in realism, and elicited my emotional connection to the book.

Giggling like a loon in a public place;
Snorting with laughter,
Knowingly smirking,
Gasping, breath holding and squirming with tension,
and, crying snot bubble accompanied tears…
Whether you consider this to be a con, of course will all depend on how you feel about public displays of emotion.


Books not drugs!
I found The Night Itself to be the perfect distraction to my inflight anxieties. Having spent the duration of the flight sat next to a fellow reluctant flyer, who had resorted to prescription drugs to get her through the experience, I can say that the adventures of Mio and Co were much better at inducing calm than valium (ok so it’s not exactly the most scientific of tests, a randomized control trial it is not, but it worked for me).

Prior to reading The Night Itself, my knowledge of and exposure to Japanese culture was pretty much limited to sushi (pass the salmon sashimi). Zoe’s obvious passion for Japanese culture was contagious, and she presented the cultural references in such an non elitist way that instead of feeling intimidated by my lack of experience I found the topic refreshing, and I fascinatedly gobbling up every tit bit and reference. I have subsequently found myself Googling elements, like the Kitsune (fox spirits) to satisfy my newly inspired curiosity.

Nope, sorry I can’t see any cons for this one.

Verdict: I adored The Night Itself, the first book in Zoe Marriott’s London based urban fantasy trilogy, and I will be adding future installments to my travel essentials.
Profile Image for Serendipity Reviews.
560 reviews332 followers
June 13, 2013
Originally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk
There’s no doubt that Zoe Marriott’s books are original and a little bit special. After wowing us with high fantasy novels such as Frost Fire and Shadows On The Moon, the author has moved in a more urban fantasy setting presenting an excellent book in her first trilogy. From the very first sentence, you’re aware that this will take you on a very different journey from any other trilogy you’ve read. I can’t compare it to any other trilogy, because the author has created her own unique route in YA. How often have you come across a katana in a house in the UK??? Seriously kudos for originality!

Mio isn’t your stereotypical character either, her Japanese heritage makes her stand out from the rest. She is small but feisty and deals with the quick turnaround of events in her life with ease and maturity. It felt like her family’s past was inbred into and released as soon as she retrieved the katana. Shinobu’s feelings were obviously strong for her from the beginning, but then he had experienced many years to cultivate them. I look forward to watching the growing relationship between Shinobu and Mio. Hikaru was my favourite character of all. I loved him as soon as his bushy tail appeared. His modern, young,voice contrasted well with Shinobu’s mature, classical one. The characters present a very British feel to this book; their constant banter is so realistic and dry in humour. The author has managed to make fantasy appear very real.

I loved that this was set in the UK. The inclusion of Battersea Power Station really excited me. I’m surprised it hasn’t made an appearance in more YA books in recent years as it is definitely a place full of history and mystery that needs to be explored.

The plot is well paced as you swiftly fly through the story with secrets and history unfolding with each chapter. The ending was dramatic and thankfully nothing was left unfinished, even though this is part of a trilogy.

I love that the author has embraced the Japanese culture to write such a promising start to this series. I think we could see the start of a new trend in Japanese inspired novel – thanks to Zoe! If you like your trilogies fast and furious, then this is definitely for you.
Profile Image for Luna's Little Library.
1,386 reviews191 followers
October 24, 2015
I could try and write a coherent review explaining how amazing this book is but let’s be honest – when it comes to me and Zöe Marriott books all I really do is gush for ages and try to find as many words meaning ‘wonderful’ as possible.

Here are some examples: amazing, awe-inspiring, awesome, brilliant, cool, excellent, fabulous, fantastic, incredible, magnificent, marvellous, outstanding, beautiful and so on…

In the spirit of total honesty I will say that I was worried about reading The Night Itself. It’s the first book in a trilogy (I avoid these), there were whispers of ‘insta-love’ (gah!) so I had the book a week before I turned to the first page. My theory was to read a little and see if I’d like it. Halfway through chapter 1 I remembered that I didn’t have to stand in the hall and actually sat down to continue. The book was finished the same night.

I loved The Night Itself. There was nothing in it I would change, which is wonderful and scary because how is the next book going to live up to that? I had those thoughts with Frostfire & Shadows on the Moon but that turned out amazing, so maybe I’m over-thinking this.

Trust me when I say The Night Itself is SO worth reading.

And because I loved Jack & Hikaru so much;

 photo d19d5995-86a8-43da-aac3-5aaf36ad6c9d_zps3b6ea516.jpg
Profile Image for Emma .
2,506 reviews353 followers
April 3, 2014
Review by Marianne - Year 9

The main focus of The Night Itself is Japanese myth. It tells the story of how a 15 year old, Mio Yamato, steals a priceless family heirloom for the sole purpose of making a fancy dress costume more exciting. The heirloom just happens to be in the form of a deadly Katana sword. Stealing the sword sets of a chain reaction awakening the blade and threatening to wreak havoc on th unsuspecting streets of London. Mio has to find a way to harness the Katana’s power or it will destroy her and her love.

I have to state straight away that I am with the villains on this one :) I really like the nine-tailed demon at the start of the book, he is such a cool, sarcastic and calculating character; just the right amount of evil without being annoying or over-powering. For the characterizations of Ms Marriott’s evil-doers I have to give her 5 stars :)

There are aspects of insta-love within the story – I agree that the relationship was inevitable and adds a beautiful touch of romance to the story overall; however I would have preferred to see the relationship develop over a longer period of time. This is a personal preference and by no means distracts from the enjoyment of the book as a whole.

I definitely recommend this author to others. Please take into consideration that I don’t generally read anything beside The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and you can truly appreciate how high this score is for me :)
Profile Image for Heatherblakely.
1,171 reviews7 followers
April 2, 2015
This book moved very quickly. I don't know what the reading level was, but it was very much "this thing is happening and oh hey foxes and oh hey let's fight BAM book is over." So it was a quick read, but a little too quick for my taste.


Non-white girl as the main character, which was great.
The stories we learn about aren't western fairy tales.


Ugh, stupid love story.
The sword seemed to control the MC more than she was controlling it, which I didn't like. Let her be strong! Don't let the sword take over for her completely.
The lesbian is getting hit on by a guy and he kisses her and she's like uhhh we need to talk about this BUT THEY DON'T TALK ABOUT IT. And like, yeah, sexuality is fluid and teenagers are figuring things out and blah blah blah, but it was said multiple times that Jack was only interested in girls. I don't know if the kiss will come up in the next book (is there a next book?), but I need there to be a discussion about how you need to respect someone's sexuality. I was so angry.

Anyway, this was a quick read, and it was fine.
Profile Image for Dylan.
864 reviews
July 30, 2013
*breathes in* OH MY GOD!


This book was so amazing. I cried. A tear fell down my face like in an anime series.

The world Zoe has created was simple, but beautiful. The Kitsune's morals alone were intriguing and awesome.

I loved the last thirty pages. One word: Epic.

The main character, Mio, is one of the strongest female leads since Katniss Everdeen, and of course her very own Suzume.

Read this book. I wanted the sequel yesterday!! No. Joke.
Profile Image for Shanti.
1,058 reviews26 followers
January 25, 2016
This was a really fun book. I loved the take on Japanese mythology, which I don't know much about, and the friendship, and the setup for the series, though I don't intend to read it anytime soon. I really like the characters. Sure it wasn't hugely developed, but still pretty enjoyable, if not memorable.
Profile Image for L.R. Lam.
Author 23 books1,180 followers
April 9, 2013
Rolicking good fun. Different from the other Marriott books I've read in that it has a more modern tone, as you'd expect in a modern non-secondary world fantasy. Lovers of anime, manga, strong heroines, and humour will be in for a treat. Look forward to the sequel!
Profile Image for Joyce Lee.
78 reviews17 followers
August 3, 2013
This book reads EXACTLY like an anime. The characters and how they behave as well as how the plot ubfolds. Some of it made me laugh out loud (snorted, actually!). Also, no hello kitty underwear. Ever!!
Profile Image for Jennifer (DigiWrit).
97 reviews4 followers
June 21, 2018
Although it wasn't perfect, this was the most fun read I've explored since the last 4 I dudded out or DNF'd. There was enough action to keep me turning the pages, and MC Mio was sensible enough and tough enough for me to respect her. But, alas, as with all works, there were a few things I didn't really like.

I'm going to begin with the good stuff--the stuff I did like:

-A solid, if not totally original, plot that wasn't too hard to follow and interesting enough to keep me wanting to read on.
-Mio was sufficiently intelligent, strong and brave to carry the story nicely. All in all, she was a respectable heroine.
-The story had a satisfying amount of action with few fillers. The story progressed well, with the plot moving steadily forward throughout with little interruption from the characters' personalities and lives.
-The book had a great supporting cast. Jack, Hikaru, and Shinobu were awesome teammates who helped to bring out the best in Mio as well as making me, the reader, invest some emotion in these characters.
-SHINOBU! He was a strong, compassionate, powerful character. When I read his description given by Mio, I couldn't help but think of Mitsuhide Akechi as designed for the Samurai Warriors video game for the Playstation 2 game console. Long, silky, hair, a deep, somewhat sexy voice, the long katana... all reminded me of that character. I loved Shinobu. Well done, Marriott.

What I didn't like:

-Mio was only fifteen years old. I think that was much too young for all the goings on in this book. Firstly, she and Jack engage in underage drinking. A fifteen-year-old getting drunk? Uh-uh. Although I'm very well aware that teens do it for real, we don't need to have it glorified in a novel aimed at adolescent and pre-adolescent readers. It's a bad example.

-Fifteen is hardly a realistic age for a character to engage in the sort of situation that Mio was thrust into. At that age, there is a serious lack of maturity and wisdom that is required to efficiently handle this kind of adventure. I hate to say it, but 21st century youth is less mature than ever, and Mio wasn't the type of girl who had been dealt a hand from the school of hard knocks. What did she know about tough choices and facing steely problems? Seventeen-going-on-eighteen would've been a more ideal age.

-Again with the age miff. Fifteen years old is much too young for a forever-true-love relationship, even if Mio and Shinobu did have a past romance in another life. Fifteen is only five years away from ten years old; essentially, Mio is little more than a child. The fact that Shinobu is head over heels in love with her is a bit odd, too, since he first "knew" her when she was a kid holding onto a sword she could barely lift from the ground. Again, seventeen to eighteen would've been a more suitable age range for this kind of romance.

-Finally, at the risk of being labeled a "homophobe", I didn't care for Jack's being gay. I don't see how it lent anything to the story. If this book isn't aimed at the LGBTQ audience, and it isn't labeled as such, I think we could've done without that piece of the story. Hopefully, there won't be any graphic revelation of this fact regarding Jack. If that happens, I really don't think I can continue reading the series. I'm not for that type of theme. I know I could be stoned for that by the LGBTQ community, but that's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. For those who support the lifestyle and all things related, help yourself; it's not my cup of tea.

All in all, this was a good read. And, if I don't see anything I'd rather not see, I will definitely complete the series. For me, that will be a huge rarity, as I hardly ever find a series worth starting, let alone finishing.

Profile Image for Diana Braxton.
351 reviews
June 21, 2018
Wow! What a wonderful read.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved reading, and more than any other genre, she loved reading urban/contemporary fantasy. But as she delved deeper into the reading world, she drifted away from urban fantasy as she discovered the hard core high fantasy. She loved the complex, layered plotlines and distinct magic systems of high fantasy she pretty much forgot all about urban fantasy.

And then she read The Night Itself and she remembered everything it was that she loved about urban fantasy. The story was packed from begining to end with action, the protagonist was relatable on a much more personal level and the author manages to flawlessly blend pop culture and teenage humor and snark with ancient japanese magic and monsters.

My largest critique was the romance. Like your classic urban fantasy, The Night Itself features a cringe worthy romance between a fifteen year old girl and a five hundred year old immortal guy that is completely instalove. Kind of. Also, many of my questions haven't been answered like: Who is the harbringer? What are the other names of Mio's katana? How the heck was Shinobou trapped in the Katana and how did taking the katana out early release the Nekomata?

Otherwise, this was a fantastic book which really sucked me in and didn't let me go until the very last page. I would highly recommend The Night Itself for fans of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones or Julie Kagawa's Shadow of the Fox.
Profile Image for Emily Ross.
1,085 reviews23 followers
October 22, 2022
2022 52 Book Challenge - 50) A person of colour as the main character

This is an average book. Its not bad, but neither is it good. I read it in less than 24 hours, finished it this morning and I've already forgotten the names of some of the character and half of the plot.
Profile Image for Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies).
861 reviews276 followers
June 12, 2013
This review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies

Zoe Marriott is one of my favourite authors. Two of her books (Shadows on the Moon and Frostfire) are amongst my favourite books ever so I was thrilled to hear that she was writing a new trilogy starting with The Night Itself being published by Walker in July. I was very lucky to receive an early copy of the book and while this book's setting is very different to Zoe Marriott's previous books, there was still all the things that I expect from her books ... beautiful writing, wonderful characters and really great, complicated relationships between them.

The Night Itself is the first book in a planned trilogy and I love how the rest of the series is so nicely set up in this first book from the characters, the demons, the history of the katana and especially the foxes.

The action kicks off with Mio, a 15 year old living in London, off to a costume party with her best friend and Mio decides that what she really needs to complete her outfit is this old Japanese sword that has been in her family for generations. Taking the katana out of its hiding place in the loft has managed to tear a hole between Mio's world and the underworld unleashing demons onto the streets of London. With the help of her best friend, Jack, a fox spirit, and an immortal Japanese warrior who has been trapped within the katana, Mio must face down the demons and learn to control the power of her family's katana.

I love the action in this book. There are demons aplenty here and some really creepy cats and danger that Mio and her band of strange allies must face. It was all pretty exciting to witness. And I really love that all of this is set in modern-day London. It all feels a little more real to me when its a demon wreaking havoc on someplace that I recognise rather than an unknown fantasy world. So I think this switch to an urban fantasy setting really works for me. The inclusion of the fox spirits was genius. I loved everything about the foxes, from the heirarchy of power, to the numerous tails and portals and everything...

I also love the bits of information that we get about Japanese culture in this book, from the manga/anime references to learning kendo to the katana and the history and origins of this underworld filled with vicious demons. Japan is one of those places that I love reading about, so The Night Itself really made me happy!

And then there are the characters. The friendship between Mio and Jack was wonderful. I loved the promise that is made between Mio and Jack and how much that promise weighs on Mio's conscience throughout the book. And while I'm not usually the biggest fan of instalove I thought that it really worked in this book. At times I was thinking that I really wanted to see more of a build-up in this relationship between Mio and Shinobu it was also just really easy to believe in it and want wholeheartedly for them to be together as a couple. I really loved the strength of feeling and loyalty from Shinobu especially.

I am so looking forward to reading more in this series! I just want more of everything. More foxes and demons and kick-ass teenage girls and swoony romance and Japanese culture and friendship. It's exciting stuff!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
754 reviews80 followers
December 12, 2014
When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

The Name of the Blade is thrilling, mysterious, exciting, and dangerous. Mio unearths something secret, something meant to be hidden away, and she's the only one who can stop it.

I rather like Mio as the heroine. She takes it all in, even though she has to or else she'll get killed. When the Nekomata comes after her, when Shinobu appears from the katana, she takes it all in with some "what in the world am I supposed to do now, I'm only fifteen" and some secret ancient Japanese power. She's not the boldest girl, and she doesn't have a killer instinct kind of mentality, but she has her strengths. Her welcoming personality, her understanding that none of what happens next will be a game. She takes it all rather seriously.

The friendship/relationship Mio has with Jack is the best. They support each other, they keep the other grounded, but it's not all blind faith and acceptance. Jack pushes back at Mio. It's the kind of friendship with unyielding support and also one where they challenge each other to do better, to be better. It's an honest friendship.

One of my main reasons for reading this book is the Japanese history and mythology. I was intrigued as to how it would appear, how it would impact Mio and her actions later on. I found it to be rather mysterious but also rather present, if that makes sense. There's magic and voices only few can hear, but there's the sword and what it does to Mio, there's Shinobu, there's the Kitsune and the Nekomata. Some of the conflict is internal, Mio warring over what to do next, but a fair amount of it is external. Which was exciting to read about, Japanese mythology and creatures against the backdrop of 21st century London.

I've been waiting to read this for so long and it didn't disappoint. Japanese mythology, the UK setting, magic swords and cat demons. But after reading it I wanted desperately to know what happened next. Who's controlling the Nekomata? Where did the sword really come from? What is the connection between Shinobu and Mio? The book takes place of a short period of time, and that barely scrates the surface of what's been going on for centuries. What the katana realls is. What the Yamato family has been hiding. I only hope it doesn't take too long for the nest two books to come out here.

(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library. Note that this is a review of the North American release. The UK release, titled The Night Itself, came out on July 4, 2013 and was published by Walker Books.)
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