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Emi has spent her entire life hiding from the creatures that hunt her. The savage earth spirits are determined to kill her before she can become the living host of a goddess, so she stays hidden—until the day she saves the life of one of her hunters.

Shiro isn't the harmless fox spirit she thought he was. He's mysterious, cunning, unpredictable...and now hers to command. He's sworn to pay his debt to her, but he doesn't know who she is. If he finds out, he'll kill her.

But she can't send him away—not yet. Her future isn't what she thought. The lies surrounding her fate have begun to unravel, and she needs answers before time runs out—answers that lie in the spirit realm. Shiro can take her there...if she dares to trust him.

And only then will she find out how deep the gods' treachery runs.

346 pages, Paperback

First published October 21, 2016

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About the author

Annette Marie

46 books6,293 followers
Annette Marie is the author of YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, romantic fantasy Red Winter, and sassy UF series The Guild Codex.

Her first love is fantasy, while fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every single book.

Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

Find out more about Annette and her books at www.annettemarie.ca.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,205 reviews
757 reviews2,345 followers
June 9, 2021
I swear, I really don't understand why such an amazing, beautifully written book about Japanese mythology with rich and gorgeous world-building, strong female character that goes through SO much character development, shameless flirting, romance that makes you scream OTP!!!! and such an intriguing plot is SO !! FUCKING !! UNDERRATED !!!!!!!!

Like, what the fuck man, y'all missing out on a gem. This book is so so wonderful, fuck I'm still so high on this, I CAN'T WRITE. okay, I need to organize everything.

This book is about Emi, who was marked to become a kamigakari for a goddess names Amaterasu. A god or goddess can't come down to earth if they don't have a perfectly amazing host prepared for them, so Emi prepared for ten freaking years to become that amazingly perfect host. It's a huge honor and she's respected a lot for it. She's treated like a queen, but had so many restrictions when preparing that she's pretty much clueless to what girls her age do. Alright so all's fun and games until she finds out something about her being kamigakari which makes her question her future and fate.

There's many other terms and things revealed in the book, but I promise you, it's not going to be confusing. It's not going to be info dump, it's going to be revealed clearly, in a way you can understand and everything is so so beautifully described. But if you're still confused, there's a glossary with every Japanese word you need to know!! I personally didn't need it because, like I said, everything flowed so easily and I was able to understand it all perfectly.

Japan's mythology is GORGEOUS. I'm blown away!!!

Okay so let me tell you, some people might have a hard time getting into the first 20ish% of this book and that's because Emi's described as the perfect "chosen one" and it's talking about stalking boys and all the things she never experienced, how she's worshiped and all, some flashbacks to a bad event, and Emi being very bland, BUT, dude, I promise you it all leads up to important shit that will slowly be revealed. Give this time and once Emi meets Shiro, shit goes down.

I repeat:

Shit goes down so hard and you'll be slowly fucking dying and its going to feel fucking amazing. Death is great.

Trust me, I'm a professional, I know this shit well.

Everything is so fucking intriguing with so many plot twists, action, character growth and awesomeness.

Okay so personally I had no problem with the beginning. I actually really liked it, despite reading reviews on how the beginning was a struggle and that's probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Emi is queen. I love her. She's naive, a little stupid in the beginning, but damn she grows so much and learns so much about herself. She doesn't become a karate master overnight and she could use some defense and fighting besides her magic, but honestly it's so realistic. Like, I don't understand how someone can become so good at fighting and motivate themselves to learn self defense and shit. (Lmao I can just feel the laziness thinking about taking lessons about self defense. I don't know how people do it.)

Shiro!!!!!!!! IS MY FUCKING HUSBAND !!!!!!. He's just so adorable and sexy and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I'M SCREAMING BYE. He's a shameless flirt and the way he makes Emi blush and feel butterflies in her stomach made me scream "OTP" once or twice while I read this. He also has a lot of mystery surrounding him which will also be slowly revealed. So fucking read it and find out for yourself mate!!!!

Also, Yumei is my fucking son. He's that emotionless bastard, but we all know on the inside he's a soft little cinnamon roll who secretly cares about Shiro and Emi because he's always there to help and fight for them and offer his protection even though he fucking says otherwise, this dickhead. Love him.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT FUCKING ELSE BITCH???? There's art. there is gorgeous art and it makes me feel like a talent-less potato.


how fucking gorgeous??? ^

The first one is my queen, Emi. Second is my hot son Yumei (I definitely spelled his name wrong, I'm sorry) and the third is my husband Shiro and his other temporary wife for the books, Emi. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL OH MY GOSH, I'M SCREAMING???? 😍😍😍

anyways, read this oh my god please read this


review to come some day when i get off of this drug called RED WINTER.
Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,467 followers
July 27, 2021
I was bored out of my mind reading this. The pacing is slower than my 5K time (which is, in turn, more tired than a sluggish, sleepy snail), the characters aren't convincing, and the love interest annoyed me.

Imagine reading a book advertised as "hate to love" that's actually, I don't know... hate to love. I'm still looking. What we have here is "mild dislike to instant attraction," which is lackluster, boring, and predictable. Shiro is obviously the love interest. I could tell as soon as he walked into the room. I saw that little fox and my LI radar went beep.

How did I know?

- He kept grabbing her for literally no reason and he didn't let go when she asked him to; instead he made some bad excuse and ignored her protests.
- He picked her up all the time. She never walked on her own. He was always carrying her.
- He had to kiss her to revive her. Come on. It was so stupid.

Yumei had no purpose. What was his point? He just stood there and tried to be menacing. He also liked to choke people. He was supposed to be secretive, but he didn't hold my interest. Why was he helping them? Was this supposed to be a fun band of misfits? Because I didn't like any of them.

The plot of this book is pretty straightforward. Emi is the kamigakari, which means she is a conduit for the gods (called kami). She's been trained her whole life for this job, but one day, she uncovers a secret about her real purpose that shocks and scares her, so she decides to stop it.

The secret was literally something I had assumed she knew the entire time. It seemed like a given. And when she found out, I was underwhelmed because I thought she would have guessed that earlier. It was obvious. What did she think the kami would do - make a polite request to inhabit her body? And then she went searching for a god to confirm what I had assumed from the start.

The stakes weren't high enough. There wasn't enough to keep me reading. It's not exciting. It's just Emi wandering around the countryside with two yokai, making mistakes.

Emi was tolerable, I guess. She was understandably naive and kind of oblivious, but it made sense to me. Her character was consistent. She wasn't physically strong, which was unique. But she was just so boring to read about.

The only thing I actually liked was the Japanese mythology. I wish there was even more focus on the mythological aspect, but I liked what I got.

Hopefully the second book will be better. Maybe Shiro will die.

2 stars

Buddy read with Demon Lia, Crisis Krizzie, Lucid Lucy, and Her Hissing Highness Erin.
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
409 reviews2,192 followers
March 13, 2021
i never thought it was possible for me to love this more than i did the first time, but it is.

best Japanese mythology based, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers book i've ever read🥺

this trilogy is so underrated and that's totally unacceptable. it deserves all the love. Like it has almost everyone's favourite trope, enemies-to-lovers , AND it's based off of Japanese mythology which I've barely seen in the book world.

it breaks my heart seeing how only about 6.5k ppl have read this *sobs* it deserves more recognition, this beautiful book. (altho, my love may be a tiny bit biased since I love Japanese culture so much BUT ANYWAYS)

trust me or maybe dont, the beginning is pretty slow, but once you reach around the 20% mark (chapter 7), it gets really good. the world building also may be a little confusing with all the terms, although you get used to it throughout the story (there's also a glossary at the back of the book).

it's funny, i actually struggled with the beginning during my first read, yet with this reread i didn't mind the slow start at all and loved everything. the banter between Emi and Shiro is amazing and being introduced to my bby Yumei🥺 i cant not reread the rest of the series now that i've read this. I need more.


“Because you are more to me now. Because you keep secrets like a kami and I’m curious what you hide. Because you are lonely and scared and I don’t understand why. Because you trust me when you know you shouldn’t. Because I believe you when you say you will keep your word.”

Emi is the kamigakari -- destined to become the kami (goddess), Amaterasu's, human host. As the kamigakari, Emi must remain pure both physically and mentally lest she be unable to receive the kami's power and spirit.

No impure thoughts or urges, being restricted to what she can eat (it must all be healthy), having nobody of the opposite gender even touch her, and more... ah, what a sad life. imagine not being able to eat pizza *shudder* the horror

The life she has feels complete to Emi... until she stumbles across something that changes everything. And with that, it all starts -- she meets Shiro, a suspicious shape-shifting kitsune (a fox yokai) who seems to be more than is shown. Yokai are spirits that are closely tied to nature and walk upon the Earth -- they're also known to be monsters or demons.

But Shiro, my love, is only the most amazing, swoon-worthy, and flirty yokai I know. The way I lived for his scenes with Emi🥺 i cant-

the question is... can you trust him? what does Shiro truly want? there must be some ulterior motive, right? this journey of trust and love throughout the trilogy is so, so beautiful. even if there was no plot, i would read this all just for these three <33

Yumei, aka the Tengu is also another yokai Emi meets. He's very cold and annoyed often by Emi and Shiro hehe but secretly he cares😏 or does he Also, he's very very sus. He doesn't appear as much as Shiro, but in the next two books, Yumei shall shine more and make me fall even more in love with him. I still say there should be a spin-off for Yumei🥺 im not giving up on that.

“Don’t forget me, Shiro,” she said hoarsely. “You’re not allowed to forget me.”

“You’ll forget me someday, little miko.”

“I’ll never forget you,” she told him. “I’ll remember you to my last day.”

“Do you promise?”

Her heart gave an odd little flutter. “Yes, I promise.”

why do i keep doing this to myself

ALSO, shoutout to Katsuo for being such a kind-hearted and sweet friend to Emi <33

i will never stop loving this series. and this is only the first book, so i can only imagine how amazing it's going to to be rereading the next two which are 10000 times better. altho... i'm scared to get my heartbroken, but that's inevitable ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

so ready for some more pain love✌

(also the art i posted above are only just a few of many illustrations in this book. ahhh another reason to read this)


Buddy re-read with demon crisis krizzie, salty sofia, your hissingness, and lucid lucy <33


First Read -> 4.5⭐
Profile Image for Tweebs♥️ .
184 reviews837 followers
October 7, 2017
**Edit: idk why i gave this 4 stars ?? am i dumb or wha?? **

“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

How dare you, Annette Marie, How dare you.


I love this author because she has this amazing ability to grab my heart and crush it with her enthralling plots, outstanding characters, soul-crushing romance, and amazing world building. Red Winter, has been on my radar for a while. You can blame it on the cover because it is absolutely gorgeous. And I may have drooled a bit. Can't blame me like it's #aesthetics. When I heard it was going to be a story based on Japanese mythology; I'm telling you that I screamed for 5 minutes straight.

someone hold me





Red Winter, is a tiny bit hard to get into the beginning for some people BUT I promise that if you push yourself then you will love it. It is entirely narrated by our MC, Emi. At the age of eight, she had been marked to become a kamigakari which is a human host for a particular goddess named Amaterasu. A goddess or god cannot come down to Earth without having a host and it takes roughly 10 years for a kamigakari to be prepared. For a decade, Emi had dedicated every moment of her life to become the perfect human host. She had a loooooot of restrictions which led to her having a somewhat isolated life. Like the poor girl couldn't live life. Couldn't even experience anything worthwhile. Being a human host meant taking no part in anything that could potentially bring harm to her. All of that changes when, Emi stumbled across the ugly truths concerning her fate and begins to doubt everything she has ever believed in.


I absolutely loved Emi. She is strong, naive, wise, brave, loyal and courageous. Her character went through a looooooooot of development within this book. I wasn’t to pleased with her character in the beginning but once I started to progress through the story; she ended up growing on me. I may have or may not have adopted her like this girl was asking for it. I'm so thrilled to see what else Annette Marie has in store for Emi’s character.

Question: Do you guys have a piece of paper around you? because I will like you to write down the names of my future husbands and remember that they've been claimed by me. You can fight me on this but you're WRONG.

Are you ready? Get yo selves prepared for dis

*drum roll*

They are Shiro and Yumei.


I will not get into them because I’m afraid that will take forever. Unless y'all got 3 years to spare? Yes? No? Yeahhhhhh, I thought so ;p but prepare yourselves. They will wreck you. And quite literally fuck you up. Proceed with caution. Or not because y'all need to experience the pain I've been inflicted upon. God damn, I'm still recovering. But I still love you adorable bean sprouts.

Listen, that’s not what I wanted to discuss.

When I got my hands on this book and began reading it; I found out by surprise that Annette Marie decided to include illustrations inside. Like whaaaaaa..??? I didn't know. What the heck. Came out of NOWHERE. I wasn't readyyyyyyy for it. But who is complaining though?????


My eyes thank you, Annette Marie.

These illustrations were so well done and captured everything I imagined these characters to look like. Especially, Shiro because *slow claps* It was as if the author went inside my mind and thought, "This is what Tweebs wants and this is what Tweebs shall get." Well, I wanted a drawing of shiro and I but.....maybe 2nd book? That cool with ya??? I was so unprepared like I was casually swiping to the next page thinking.......absolutely nothing like what was I suppose to think of when this plot was slaying me left and right......but NOPE! I was hit with illustrations. freakin illustrations y'all . I'm not exaggerating when I say this but I felt a tear drop like.....the beauty of these illustrations though. Wow. I'm not crying. You are. Yes, you. I see them tears. No need to deny it.

I hope you didn't think I wouldn't share these beautiful illustrations, did you?????? From this point on, your eyes will be blessed.

I dare anyone to fight me on this.

There's plenty more lovely illustrations inside the book and I'd love nothing more to share them all but the thing is...I'm cruel. Life ain't that easy. You have to read this book in order to see the rest of the illustrations ;p Am I good at this bargaining business or wha?

Hope you all love it as much as I did.........but that's unlikely!!!!
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews867 followers
April 9, 2023
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

Why The Red Winter Trilogy Is THE Hidden Gem | Lindsey Reads

I enjoyed the world-building going on in Annette Marie’s Red Winter, the first book in her Red Winter Trilogy. The downside was that even with a fair bit of action in the early going (including a friend’s death), it didn’t feel like the stakes were all that high. When it comes to our protagonist’s fate (which comes into focus a little bit later); however, the stakes are raised. For the last ten years, Emi has prepared to be a kamigakari, a vessel for the goddess, Amaterasu, and told that she would share her consciousness with the goddess. A few weeks before the ritual, Emi learns that her life is about to end before she really had a chance to live. Merging with Amaterasu will destroy her. She moves from resignation that this was her fate to despair and finally defiance. She feels betrayed and unsure what her next steps will be. Her decisions race this novel to its satisfying (not quite) conclusion. 3.5 stars
January 2, 2022
This book is a #Mustread!! The best book by Annette Marie and one of the BEST BOOKS EVER!
What are you doing that you don't read this book?


For all of us in the Kindle unlimited Elite it's

We look so so so so smug now!!

SMUG 'cuz it's FREE for us!!

Guys without Kindle unlimited!!!!, the price for this one is really reasonable!!! Just $2.99 but if you're unsure try a first month KU for free!!!! JOIN THE KU ELITE!! We're having so much fun!!!

I usually HATE overhyped YA but this one is really really good. It's an ALL TIME FAVORITE. That's how good this one is.

I have nearly 2000 friends in goodreads. And guess what? All of them will receive a book recommendation. I think I'll be sending recs onto next week and it's gonna be a lot of work, but THAT'S HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I love love love love this book SO MUCH that if you don't like it, but you don't justify a negative rating with reasonable arguments against this oh! so unreasonable, blown-away (by the magnificence of this book) BESSOTTED girl...



♥ If you don't like a book I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuvvvvvvvvvvvv, that's fine

♥ If you say, I don't read books in that genre, that's fine

♥ If you see this GORGEUS COVER and read a synopsis and think, maybe not, that's also fine.


♥If you won't give a chance to this book because ANNETTE MARIE SENSEI isn't as famous as other authors...

♥If you RUDELY IGNORE MY HEART-FELT RECOMMENDATION without even glancing at it...
♥If you post unjustified negativity against this master piece....

...I'll hate you.

One thing is saying, it wasn't the book it was me.

One thing is saying, this book is good but I couldn't connect.

A very different thing is posting negativity for the sake of negativity. Or when you say: "avoid this book" I hate when people tell others DON'T READ THIS BOOK. Let people make their own mind, shall we?

'Cuz believe me. There's NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with this book. It takes its time to develop but once it's there it's AMYzing!!The story, the characters, the art is just so good. I love the art!!! I'm buying this on print for sure!! You may like it, you may not 'cuz, admittedly, not everyone is a JAPANESE CULTURE freak as I am. But this book IS GOOD! REALLY GOOD!! I wouldn't recommend it to you if it wasn't. I only recommend good books and you can ask my friends, they usually love the books I recommend.

My only problem is that this doesn't have sex!! I'm hoping the sequels have steam because I'm shipping H and h, so badly!!

Guuuuysss!!!! This is a #mustread.

♥♥♥UPDATE 4/23/2020
I FINALLY BINGE READ THE TRILOGY. Believe me you need to read this series prefererably back to back. You don't need a kindle just your KU app. YOU'RE GONNA LOVE IT!!!
Profile Image for krista ☽✧.
172 reviews525 followers
March 12, 2021
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

first time reading ; 2017 yep yep , remember really loving this whole triology
Second time reading [ which i wrote this revieuw from ] March 2021

Buddy read with Demonic lia Creature who is also rereading , Salty Sophia aka Sofia and Lucid Lucy < 33

This revieuw is spoiler free , it has some explanation for the worldbuilding in it as it can be a little confusing

Overall this is a pretty good book too a promising unique triology , it has many great elements but it was definitly a built up for the rest of the books , as most first books are. Overall this book has a super cool unique urban fantasy worldbuilding that is inspired by Japanese Mytology which i loved , this has somuch anime vibes too it. This book doesnt have any infodumps in it and the world is explained in my opinion at a really well pace and not all at once so it was easy too come intoo as we learn a bit more chapter by chapter. The book is slow in the begining and took some time too actually pick up but arround page 100 it picks up and has a lot of action scenes and banter and some romance. So if you are struggeling with the begining , hold on , hope is not lost. there is light at the end of the first 100 pages hehe. Also this book doesn’t have stupid tropes like ; love triangles , insta love or girl on girl hate.

This book follows Emi who is a Kamigakari which is a human host picked out by the gods in this world , the Amatsukami which is the first of the two kami species in this world that lifes in the spirit realm aka heaven ish. too be prepared for their entire life too remain pure and become the host of the god this person is chosen for , in this case Emi is a Kamigakari of the one of the 4 amatsukami's called Amaterasu the kami of the wind. both kami species [ the other one i will explain in a bit ] provide the ballance of the world and the ballance of nature but too truly do that the kami's have too be in the human world , thats why they claim their human vesel who has prepared too host them aka Emi. But is everything the people who raised Emi and helped her prepare for true ? or is it one big lie... ??? Who knows , who knows. well you will if you read this book.

Allong her journey too seek answers aboit her fate Emi meets two Yokai who are also kami's but kami's that live on the earth who are called the Kunitsukami they are mostly seen as demons in this world by the followers of the other kami's , the ones from heaven. But both the kami species need eachother too create ballance in the world so are they really demons ? or not.
Yokai one is Kitsune Yokai Shiro aka my sarcastic charming bby and the second one is Yumei master of crows aka mister grumpy But besides Emi wanting too learn her true fate there are more things going on , the 4 Kunitsukami are lost and havent been seen for a while which is disturbing because they are needed for the ballance , so what is happening?

Charracters At first Emi is a bit tough too like , at least for me. She reminds me a bit of Poppy from , from blood and ash because she also has no experience with any normal things etc. because of her duty too the gods and her preparation for it. She is a bit naive in the begining of the book and a bit whiny but she does has charracter development and troughout the story she grew a little bit more too me and develops less naiveness and more strenght , i know because this is a re-read for me that she has more development in the next book which is great. I Really do love Shiro who is freaking charming and sarcastic + he has mystery too him which is slowly revealed which i find intersting too read about. I also enjoyed Yumei he kinda reminds me of kell from a darker shade of magic a bit and matthias from six of a crows , he is like this mister grumpy lmao. but we can all see that there is more too hikm and he is actually a cinnamon roll.

Dymanics , romance This has enemies too lovers and i really like it aaah somuch banter and shiro constantly flirting with emi which gave her butterflies lmao. I like it. I also love the banter between Yumei and Shiro and their hate relationship but actually caring for eachother.

Also the writing is pretty good especially the action scenes are really well written and the interactions between the charracters and banter.

I also love the fact that this book has illustrations in it aaah. they are pretty.

Overall this book is a good book too the begining of a unique fantasy triology with unique worldbuilding , banter , slowburn enemies too lovers and some great friendships. since this is my re-read i already know this is my least fav in the triology and the second and third are much better as Emi develops more in those and dynamics between charracters grow and the plot gets taken too another level but if you want something a little more unique in its worldbuilding with easy writing then pick this up : ) also no insta love and no love triangle , girl on girl hate and other tropes I find annoying.

a little list of important terms in the book
- Amatsukami - the 4 gods aka kami who live in the spirit / heaven realm and take care of the balance of the world with the other gods that live on earth.
- Kuntisukami The 4 kami who live on earth and are mentioned being the bad ones out of the gods , they also take care of the ballance of the earth
- Yokai the under creatures of the kuntisukami who live on earth , spirutal beings
- Ki - energy of life force , everyone has ki in them. this is the force of power the kami can use but is also human their life energy.
- Kamigakari - the human host for the amatsukami so they can be present on earth too take care of the balance of earth.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
973 reviews1,788 followers
February 1, 2022
✅ Gorgeous cover
✅ Asian inspired
✅ Mythology
✅ Characters
✅ Plot

4.5 stars

“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

I was first intrigued by the gorgeous cover of the book, add to that the summary promising adventure with an Asian influence (and a kitsune!), and some fellow reviewers comparing this series to From Blood and Ash, and I was already loving the book before I even started reading it. It does remind me of Ms. Armentrout's book, but only for the general "special girl being kept in the dark and slowly realizing that people she trusted had been lying to her for her entire life" plotline. The romance in Red Winter is not nearly as hot, intense, or explicit, and it is definitely more Young Adult than New Adult, but chances are that if you liked the plot of From Blood and Ash, you will enjoy Red Winter.

The beginning is a little slow, but keep reading because it is really worth it! There is a glossary at the end, but mostly, the new words and concepts are introduced simply and clearly. The mythology and Asian culture are present everywhere in the book. The world-building is great, without being overly complicated. I really enjoyed this book.

“Don’t forget me, Shiro,” she said hoarsely. “You are not allowed to forget me.”
He blinked slowly and something shifted in his gaze. His lips curved in his familiar crooked smile.
“You’ll forget me someday, little miko.” His voice was even hoarser than hers, rough and coated in a hint of animal growl.
“I’ll never forget you,” she told him. “I’ll remember you to my last day.”
“Do you promise?”
Her heart gave an odd little flutter. “Yes, I promise.”

The characters are great and the character development is so well done! Emi goes from a perfect and obedient human vessel for a Goddess (once the ritual is performed in two months) to a frustrated young woman trying to be the master of her destiny. The other important character is Shiro, the kitsune, and I just adore him. He is mysterious, mischievous, and also probably a liar, but you can also see that he ends up caring about Emi, even though they are supposed to be enemies (but not in a doomed Romeo and Juliet fashion, rest assured), they are really sweet and I hope their relationship continues to strengthen in the next book.

Her hand tightened over his. “Do you think you could ever forget me?” She asked with feigned haughtiness and a teasing smile. “After all we’ve been through?”
His brow furrowed, then he grinned. “It would be hard to forget how annoying it is to have to carry you everywhere.”
“And save my life all the time.”

The only thing that bothered me (a little tiny bit) is the fact that this story is actually set in a modern urban fantasy setting, and I kept forgetting about it because it just felt more like a historical fantasy (or straight fantasy) than an urban fantasy so I was always surprised when they mentioned cellphones or busses...

I also have to mention that there are gorgeous illustrations throughout the book (from Brittany Jackson) that add a special touch to the story, and even add to the appeal of the characters.
Really I just couldn't put the book down. The end is not a cliffhanger, but it definitely makes me happy that I already have the second book so I can continue reading Emi's and Shiro's adventure right away.

Prince of Shadows ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
488 reviews716 followers
March 17, 2021
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

I’m so happy I enjoyed this book! especially because Lia and Krizzie would have killed me otherwise. There are some things that I hope will be improved in the next two books in the series, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Buddy read with Krizzie, Angel Demon Lia, Salty Sofia and Her Hissingness Erin

Red Winter follows Emi who is a kamigakari - a human who hosts a kami’s spirit within their body - and she in a couple of months from the beginning of the book her mortal life will end and she will become the host of the Wind Amatsukami, Amaterasu. All her life she has prepared herself for this moment and she is ready for it, until she uncovers a truth she didn’t want to know. We also have, Shiro, a yokai, a spirit of earth, who is an enemy to the goddess Emi will soon host. But when Emi saves his life, their paths became more intertwined than either of them thought.

This book was more of an introduction to this world. There was a lot of world-building in this and you can clearly see that the author put a lot of thought in the book. And because of this the first half of the book was pretty weak. There was just so many info-dumps and I just felt so bored and confused (thank you Krizzie for explaining this world to me haha). The pacing was a bit weird in the beginning and I was having a hard time making myself pick up the book. But as soon as I reach the halfway point, the pace picked up and the plot got 10 times better. I was so invested and I needed to know how the book would end.

The ending was amazing. It was so actioned packed and so many things has started to make sense, a lot of our questions were answered and it ends in such a way that you feel like you need to pick up the sequel immediately.

"Death is natural and expected. If you are not strong enough to survive, you either find someone stronger to protect you or you perish.”

I love the Japanese mythology in this book. I’m a sucker for mythology books and I’ve never read a book focused on Japanese mythology. I loved learning more about this side of Japanese culture and I wanna read more books like this in the future.

I had a strange relationship with the characters. In the beginning I couldn’t care less about either of them, but by the end of the book they all started to warm up a bit to me.


I hated Emi in the beginning. She was so naive that it was just painful for me to read about her. I could see an improvement in her character by the end of this book, but it wasn’t enough for me to actually love love her character. I’m waiting for that character development that Lia has promised me in the next book!


I was a bit suspicious when he was introduced, but as I saw him interact with Emi, I just started to fall in love with him. There is a lot of mystery surrounding him and even after finishing the book there’s still a lot about him that we don’t know and that I need to know. I cannot wait to read more of his storyline in the next two books and I need more interactions between him and Emi.


Yumei, or the Tengu was an extremely interesting character to read about. He is this grumpy, moody boy although I think he is over 1000 years old, but whatever and I’m curious to read more about him. I wanna know more about him!

I really liked the romance in this book. Enemies to lovers is one of my all time favorite book troupes. I don’t know why, but I just love it, especially when it’s done as well as it’s done in this book. I’m so excited to read more about this.

Another thing that I loved about this book is that it has art through out it! The art that I've used in the review is actually the art that we see in the book too. It's just so gorgeous and there are more in the book. I cannot wait too see more of them in the next books.

This is an amazingly underrated book and more people truly need to read it. I didn’t really expect to like it as much as I did, but here I am. This book just surprised me and please pick it up since it deserves more hype!

"Some things were more important than her life, but that didn’t mean her life didn’t matter at all."


Krizzie and Lia were indeed right. This book is really good.


Krizzie and Lia love this so I better love this too.

Buddy reading this with Krizzie, Lia, Sofia and Erin
Profile Image for Darcey.
928 reviews200 followers
February 16, 2021
REREAD UPDATE: I STILL LOVE THIS BOOK. I also love my buddy read babe, Diana!


(review that I wrote when I finished this book above the wiggly dashes, more in-depth series review below. but no spoilers!)


so. i've found my one true love. it's Shiro, y'all. and i don't give a crap that Shiro and Emi are perfect together and meant to be, because i am in love and i will never stop! another book boyfriend has emerged, and he might even beat Julian from Caraval (honestly they both give off the same vibes... it's clear i have a type, and it's lying, mischevious boys who can't be trusted. oop).
anyway this book was AMAZING. a true hidden gem. it's about to become one of my new favourite series to sigh over as a great feeling of content fills me, i can just tell. i love it!
onto the next book ;)
thanks for all the recs, especially yours Ash, as you forced reminded me to read this stunning book hehe xx


This series is AMAZING. Beyond amazing. The characters are relatable and their development is stunning, the romance is *chef’s kiss* and the storyline is addictive, unique, full of plot twists and easy enough to follow! Also Annette’s writing..... she weaves the most crazy addictive stories and she draws you in with every page and never lets you go.
These characters will always hold a place in my heart, so let’s talk about my main three babies. Emi, Shiro and Yumei. Oh, how I love them. Emi is our MC and, though she may not be Celaena Sardothien badass, she’s amazing in her own way and she’s so ready to do what she needs in order to live her own life. Honestly the start of this story reminds me of From Blood and Ash, as it’s a girl who’s trapped in a destiny she no longer wants, who can’t do certain things because of what she is and what she means for the world. So if you love From Blood and Ash (and everyone seems to love it) then check this out! Anyway, Emi. Her character development is magnifique and she’s the sweetest, loveliest darling, who also happens to be smart and brilliant at making sure that she and her friends stay alive. Her relationship with Yumei is so gorgeous (I’ll talk about her and Shiro later) and I really love watching how she grows up and overcomes her problems, and becomes friends with Yumei while she’s at it. Yumei may be a prickly cactus of a guy, but he’s caring in his own way, and he protects those he cares for with everything he can. Though Yumei may hate Emi at the start, she breaks through his iron walls and pushes her way into his frozen little heart, and makes sure that Yumei always knows he’s loved and never forgets about her. And then there’s Shiro..... laughing, mischievous Shiro. I love him with all my heart and soul. He hides the fact that he can’t remember anything in his past behind a wall of humour and flirtation (much like Lyre from Steel & Stone actually) and his character develop meant is the sweetest, but you know what’s sweeter? Him and Emi. They’re adorable and full of love and chemistry and absolute swoon-worthy romance. They make me want to cry everyday because I want that love, but I don’t mind, because I can just reread this series in order to feel the love oozing out of the pages.
Oh and the storyline! The Japanese mythology! It’s all wonderful and it’s all unique but also easy to imagine, which makes this the perfect series. I don’t want to mention much about to storyline to avoid spoilers, but the mythology is definitely stunning and has clearly been researched, and it really adds to the overall appeal of this series.
Now I want to reread.....
Oh, and for those of you who have a kindle, this entire 3 book series is for like 10AUD (something like 8-9USD?) on kindle so it’s great value! And it’s well worthwhile to buy the whole series, trust me ;).
Profile Image for majo .
653 reviews280 followers
January 18, 2020
Reread 2020.
Shiro will always be the yokai of my heart.

My soul will not rest until this book and this series get the recognition they deserve. This is my favorite romance fantasy and whoever is not reading it is committing a crime.

why is this book so unpopular??????

Nearly two years ago, I dnf'ed a book that was supposedly inspired in Japanese culture. It was a HUGE let down because I was expecting a book about a plot centered in the japanese folklore, with amazing characters and an amazing japanese-inspired story. That book was Ink and when I read it, it was just your typical and super average insta-love YA story. I was sad. I was angry. Because I really wanted to find a book with a good japanese setting, because japanese culture is so interesting to me. So why, I ask myself to this day, the author had to ruined a good concept with the tropes everyone hates in YA books???. I didn't like that. And I was so bitter about that, until now: my tragic book story ends with a happy ending!
You see, I found this book. This stunning, incredible book that was everything I wanted Ink to be. Thanks to the book gods that this exists. I FREAKING ADORED THIS BOOK IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

All the characters are asian, and all the plot is inspired by japanese gods and mythical creatures. There are a lot of yokai, (who are the traditional spirits in this culture, if you didn't know) and there is a super interesting plot about kami conspiracies. The main setting of this book is the traditional japanese shrine you always see in this culture and the woods that surrounds it. IT WAS SO GOOD. And this book also has beautiful beautiful beautiful illustrations that make the story ten times better. and to make the story even better THE LOVE INTEREST IS A FOX BOY. (well, technically there is a sort of a love triangle, but I root for the fox boy because, just look at him)

(These are some of the illustrations inside the book. they are so beautiful!)

I can't believe this book has so few rating, it definitely deserves more love!
Profile Image for Khadidja .
559 reviews394 followers
January 5, 2018
I am so so soooo grateful that I've chose to start 2018 with this book i think it's the ONE right decision i made in my whole life.
This book is beautiful (i mean when i say Japan the first word that cross my mind is Beautiful.), delightful, catchy, fast-pacing (i didn't get bored while reading AT ALL and that is, dear friends, a miracle).
The fact that only a countable number of people read this book is a crime against nature.

Red Winter is an urban fantasy set in Japan, it's about this girl, Emi who was chosen by a Goddess named Amaterasu to be her Kamigakari -A god or a goddess cannot descend to earth if they don't have a perfectly perfect prepared host- by the age of nine.
Emi has given up all her life for this honorable task, for she believes that she is quite lucky that she was the chosen one and not an other miko. She is then sent to a small shrine to be kept hidden from those who want to destroy her in other words the enemies of Amaterasu.

SO, open your eyes and listen to me (don't ask me)
I loved Emi, she is brave, smart-ish, loyal to everyone especially her goddess, she is also naive but not dumb-naive like some MCs who makes you want to go inside the book SLAP them, hug the love interest and then come back to real life and finish your tea.
She goes through SO much character development and i love her.

There's two beautiful, charming, drool-over-worthy, swoon-worthy Yokai :
The shameless flirtatious Kitsune Aka Shiro
And the dark cruel Tengu Aka My husband.....I mean Yumei
Because after seeing them i screamed for one hour straight.

How did you see them you ask? (Even if you didn't ask you still ask) well there's some freaking gorgeous illustrations that makes me remember what a talentless watermelon i am.
No am not going to show you how amazing they are because i don't know how the hell am i supposed to upload images because i am forcing you to go read it and see it for yourself.

Annnnnnd if you do read this book i will reward you with :
1) A cookie.
2) A hug.
3) both.

The choice is all yours.

I am off searching for a Kitsune and a Tengu . Who joins me?

They both are hot as hell so i can't pick one
Profile Image for Holly.
1,430 reviews983 followers
December 31, 2018
I highly recommend NOT doing the audiobook, because then you would miss out on the really wonderful illustrations that are dispersed throughout the story:

I have basically almost no background knowledge about Japan so going into this book I was, and still am, a bit confused about how much of the story is based on real Japanese folklore (kitsunes) and how much is made-up fantasy. So ignoring that aspect, since I don't know the answer to it, all I can is that I enjoyed this story of duty/honor/truth/destiny. This story basically deals with the idea of what you would do and how would you feel if you spent almost your whole life dedicated to achieving a certain goal, only to find out that actually obtaining that goal will be nothing like you were promised. Yet the achieving the goal is still vitally necessary to everyone else, regardless of whether or not you still desire it, and there's nothing you can do to stop it now. It's a conundrum that I greatly enjoyed reading about. This is YA fantasy though, so of course there is a bit of romance thrown into this plot too and it's part of a trilogy. I'll definitely be reading on!
155 reviews260 followers
March 16, 2018
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”
3.5 stars

Red Winter
has been on my radar ever since I saw that beautiful cover and I kid you not, this book is just as beautiful inside as it is outside-apart from Emi, that is, she was not that beautiful but we're going to discuss that later. Not only it has rich world building based on Japanese mythology, great characters(not including Emi) and great action there are also many beautiful illustrations sprinkled throughout the book making everything more interesting!

This is the story about Emi, who is soon going to become kamigakari for goddess named Amaterasu. Emi has lived 10 years preparing herself to become a perfect host for her goddess. She'd been sheltered throughout her life fdom impurities of this world. She can't wait to infuse herself with her goddess but just two months before Amaterasu desends, Emi discovers some dreadful truth about herself that had her questioning her whole life.

She get to meet Shiro, a kitsune. Now kitnsunes are Yokai, who are enemies for Emi's goddess, therefore completely forbidden for Emi but she had saved his life once, therefore he is indebted to her. As the story unfolds, Shiro and Emi find themselves working together trying to save eachother from enemies that are emerging from totally unexpected places.

Shiro is, I bet, everybody's kind of perfect hero. Handsome, mischievious,making our heroine blush and then occasionally forgetfull because of some events in his past. There is light romance between Emi and Shiro and I'm so excited to see how it develops in the next book.
“Because you are more to me now. Because you keep secrets like a kami and I’m curious what you hide. Because you are lonely and scared and I don’t understand why. Because you trust me when you know you shouldn’t. Because I believe you when you say you will keep your word.”

So why only 3.5 stars? Because Emi. The protaganist was just a bit too naive and stupid for my tastes. At first I almost dnf'ed it because Emi got so annoying but so many reviews said that she is goung to get better in the end so I had to continue but unfortunately, Emi didn't develop as strong and independant person as much as I hope she would.Though her naivety was understandable,she'd been brought up sheltered from everything all her life, it did not make it better to read about a girl who deliberately walk into danger all the time and then constantly needs saving. BUT, on the bright side, there is hope that she would develop further in the next book and learn to protect herself without help of Shiro or Yumei and Katsuo. In this book, theee were changes in her thinking, she was realizing there is more to herself then just be a kamigakari but she still got on my nerves all the time. Ugh.

I just hope in the next book Emi put her thoughts in action and stop needing men to save her ass.
Profile Image for Mel Anie .
157 reviews85 followers
January 28, 2018
Rating: 5! And all the stars in the universe!!

Red Winter was such an amazing read which made it hardly possible to put this book down. Ever since the very first page, I was captured in this magnificent story which takes place in Japan. Main character, 18 years old Emi, is a kamigakari, a to-be-host for one of kami (god/ness). Ever since she's been chosen at the age of 8, Emi's been living in shrines where she's been trained for her role. In next few weeks, her life as a mortal will cease and she will become one with a goddess. Everything would be amazing, but one-day Emi finds a passage in a book which tells her that everything she's been taught won't be so amazing.

Annette Marie did an outstanding job in writing this book. I'm in awe. World-building with all those elements of Japanese mythology and with all those mythical creatures - I'm in love with this book. I simply can't praise this book enough.


The story follows the life of Emi, 18 years old girl which 10 years ago was marked by the Goddess of Wind named Amaterasu. I dare to say that she doesn't have her own life, everything she does must be controlled. Kami can only be hosted by a pure person. This is why Emi needs to eat special food, bath two times a day, keep her body fit and healthy, pray and meditate.
Despise all those requirements Emi is happy and proud to be chosen. She cannot wait until the day of solstice when Amaterasu and she will become one. Well, until one particular day...


Emi - Strong characterised protagonist of the book. She sometimes might appear naive, but worry not, she will say what's on her soul if she is pushed over the edge. I truly like the way she is portrayed in this book. Her personality is well balanced. She is caring, but she knows well when she should stop caring about something or someone.

Shiro - May I mention that I love his name? (idk, I have something to this word, no matter what language it is). He is a kitsune, a fox yokai. A shapeshifter. I really adore his attitude. He can be cold, he can be cute, and sometimes he can be too forward in his action. He is also really cute on the outside. My fav character in this book.

Yumei - A raven, the Tengu. Friend to Shiro. He is a little bit biased when it comes to Emi. He has his cold demeanor. Clever and really powerful yokai.

There are also many other characters throughout the book. I've only picked 3 of those which I thought that are most valuable for the story.


Here happens a lot, but I will keep it short and as spoiler free as possible
There is chemistry. There is a philosophy of yin and yang, two opposites. This was probably my 2nd fav aspect of this book after the mythological elements. The building of this ship is so so on point. It not exasperated nor lacking in anything. It's sweet and cute. It's forward and a little naughty. It's simply really good.


Illustrations in this book by Bea are simply magnificent. I'm in love with them and with her skill.

Finally closing this review, I'm really happy that I've read this book. It was amazing. I wasn't bored at all. This book has mythology, Japan, fantastical creatures, really good plot, well-made world-building and it doesn't lack in action - all the aspects I enjoy.

I really look forward to reading remaining books of the trilogy!
Profile Image for Sunny.
275 reviews240 followers
August 15, 2022
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

This is my first time reading a Japanese fantasy, and the only thing I found disappointing is why I didn't pick it up sooner. I started listening to the audiobook, when my friend told me there was cool illustration in the actual book. So I ended up purchasing the ebook and I am SO GLAD that I did. I'll post a few of the art below.

This story follows a girl named Emi, whose sole purpose in life is to remain untainted by anything bad in the world in order to become a human host for a goddess. In other words, she can't do anything fun or even remotely dangerous in order to protect herself. So no boys, no adventures, no playing sports or running around, basically anything that could result in physical or emotional harm is a no go. Although, she is proud to be the chosen host, so she never complained about all the things she been forced to miss out on. Most who are chosen die at an early age. Our protagonist Emi, has lived and survived for much longer. So everyone is counting on her to protect herself until the time to give her body for a goddess has come.


When she decides to do a bit more research to help in any way, she stumbled upon information that has been kept from her her entire life. Suddenly Emi finds herself questioning everything she has ever lived for.

Shiro is our male hero. This man is mysterious and everything she has been taught to stay away from. He is basically the enemy of the goddess Emi is supposed to be a host for. But when she saves his life one day, he finds himself indebted to her. Soon, both Emi and Shiro are testing the limits to their power and finding ways to work together.


This book has the best action and very light romance that I am excited to see develop in the next book. This is a new genre for me. I've always enjoyed fantasy, but Japanese fantasy is not something I've deeply thought about. The closest I've ever gotten to Japanese tales was the whole kitsune story line from Teen Wolf. That just shows how stupid and ignorant I was lol. Because this book is a whole new level of Japanese fantasy. I enjoyed how the author used folklore and made it her own. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment.
Profile Image for Izza Mae (books&teacups).
146 reviews51 followers
October 9, 2022
I am not new with Japanese mythology because of my obsession of anime/manga when I was younger. Moreover, I am quite familiar with some of the terms that were used in the book such as miko, kami, yokai, kitsune, tengu and the like thanks to a manga that I've read few years ago called Kamisama Hajimemashita But this story still blew me away.

The first third of this book is world building. Because Japanese culture is so vast, rich, and magically wild that you should know more about it before actually learning about the plot, in which the author did quite well.

But for me who knows quite a bit about Japanese folklore, the beginning was slow and dragging. That is the reason why I only gave a rating of four stars. But don't get me wrong. I still learned a lot about Japanese lore and I'm willing to learn more about it. And I was impressed that the author was able to give main details about Japanese lore in only one thirds of the book.

The characters were well-written. I love how the author portrayed her characters such as Emi, Shiro, and Yumei. Emi is the kamigakure or someone who will become a vessel of a kami or god. Shiro is a yokai or a demon, more specifically, a kitsune or fox demon. And Yumei, another yokai, who is a tengu or crow demon.

I loved every interaction between the three characters. We have Emi who is naive but selfless, Shiro who is sly and mysterious, and Yumei who is serious and firm. I am looking forward to reading more about them, especially Emi and Shiro. I love the thing that is brewing between them. I am quite sure that there is more to their story than what I read in this book.

What I also loved about this book is the gorgeous art that is presented in some of the chapters. It helped me a lot because I was imagining the characters of the manga that I've mentioned above when I was reading the book, and this confused me a lot because the personality of the characters of this book and that manga is very different. But the drawings made me move on from the manga and focus more about the book. So it was very helpful in ways more than one.

More people should read this book because it is so good and I definitely recommend this book to those who loves fantasy with a side of a slow burn romance.
Profile Image for mith.
750 reviews258 followers
April 18, 2023
hi guys i just reread this and [clenches fist] i love these characters SO MUCH.
If you guys liked the Steel & Stone series, you're definitely going to like this book.
I've only begun reading her books last year but in that short time, she's already managed to become one of my favourite authors. I love how she writes, both her characters and her plots. Each character is unique and you think you know them, their intentions, but then she slyly reveals that there's so much more to them. And her books always have a way that make you want to read the book in one sitting, no matter what.
I confess, I was a little bit wary in the beginning of the book. It felt a little slow and I was worried there wouldn't be as much action as her first series. But soon enough, it picked up and it was another wild roller coaster.
The book takes place in modern Japan. Emi, the main character is a kamigakari, a person who is meant to host her goddess, Amaterasu. She's lived a lonely life in the 10 years she's spent preparing--no physical contact, no real friends, no normal things to ensure her purity and safety for the goddess. And she's believed it was necessary all that time too. Until she comes across a bitter truth, that is.
I saw some parallels between this and Marie's other characters. But like I said, they were unique. Emi wasn't as capable with weapons as Piper had been, but she was still strong in her own manner. I loved reading from her POV and I can't wait for more of her adventures with Shiro!!
Shiro was just such an amazing character and I'm so excited to find out about his past but also afraid to know what he's been through. He's sly and strong and very, very intriguing. He sort of reminded me of Lyre and honestly, I can't even complain. They're both A++.
There is a romance in this book but it isn't the most important thing, which I loved! (but at the same time, I would have liked more because I already love the two of them together and it's killing me.)
You can tell Marie did her research well! Each term is explained thoroughly, and though it did sometimes feel like info-dumps, it didn't matter to me because at least I understood, which I consider more important. I'm very excited to see where she takes this series because it's so full of rich Japanese mythology. Combined with her writing talent, the series is going to be very interesting.
Also! Before I finish off, there's art in this book! And it's SOO beautiful and perfectly goes with the story. So you get to see the characters and the setting and it's wonderful. It'll definitely make the reading experience better!
So! All that being said, this is a solid 4 stars. I hope the next book comes out soon because n e e d.
I received an advanced copy from the author's ARC team in return for an honest review!
Woooow, Annette Marie does not disappoint. I'm kind of sad I finished this so quickly--the wait for book two is going to be devastating. Full review to come soon.
Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,291 reviews340 followers
December 15, 2019
4,5 stars

This was my first book by Annette Marie and a buddy read with Jen @starcrossedbooklovers and Raven @dreamyaddictions.
Thank you Jen for reaching out to me because I would have missed a delightful read!

Let's begin with the most important: I want more and we are already planning to buddy read the second book!

The cover is beautiful but the art inside the book is even more gorgeous and it made me realize that I missed watching animes!
The art combined with Annette Marie's writing teleported me inside an Asian country. I imagined being in Japan, on a mountain in late Fall surrounded by snow, forests and silence.
The shrine took the appearance of one of these temples you can see on postcards or movies.

In the beginning of the story Emi was the dutiful and reserved Miko. She behaved like the devout maiden she's been groomed to be, ready to welcome a goddess in her body.
I confess that the mythology and the cast of deities with their reign and complex relationships felt foreign to me. Yet it was part of the appeal and exoticism of this story.

I told Jen and Raven that Emi was angry when people doubted the importance of her calling, telling her she missed so many things.
And that's true to survive the goddess she had to prepare her body and mind for years. Honing them with healthy food, exercise and no temptations.

I had to stop reading at 20% in the book to read an ARC and my buddies laughed, telling me I stopped just when things began to get really interesting.

And boy were they right!

It was a turning point, sending the story on a whole other path!
Emi outgrew my expectations!
Way to be a dutiful Miko, untrained in the art of war and still be incredibly resourceful to kick behinds!!!
I think that's one of the things that I loved most: Emi is no warrior but she is so strong willed and smart that she uses her brain and her will to fight bad Yokay and kami! This is my favorite kind or heroines: not born a warrior but resourceful! Brain over brawn if you want!

Let's not forget some mischievous and Uber hot kitsune and an impassive yet lethal Tengu!

You have the perfect mix of fantasy and ancestral tradition in a modern world.
Secrets, betrayals and unexpected alliances.
A quest and a mystery to solve.
A beautiful and resourceful heroine.
A hot kitsune.
What I hope will be a romance of course!
And lots of action.

The writing flows effortlessly and it's a book that is meant to be devoured thanks to the plot and its interesting characters.


I loved it so much that I ordered the three paperbacks (and I’ll holler for Jen and Raven to read the second instalment as soon as I get it!).

Have you read this series?
Thanks for reading!

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Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
534 reviews653 followers
May 25, 2019
*4.75/5 stars*

The inside of this book is just as beautiful as the outside is and if that doesn't convince you to read this book than please look at the cover again.

I very much enjoyed the easy immersive storytelling. It's one of those books you can easily read in one or two sittings. It especially kicks off after Emi first ventures outside the shrine. Some instances were reminiscent of anime, so I think fans of it will definitely enjoy this one. But I know that someone who isn't way too familiar with it (aka like me) will love this one as well.

I loved the feel of the setting - this book is set in Japan. And the fantasy world this author created is so lush, otheworldly, vicious and intriguing.

As well as he characters. Emi had such an amazing character journey in this one! Plus Shiro was the absolute best. Such a flirty fox! I really really enjoyed the subtle, witty, slow burn romance.

There are also, as an added bonus, some gorgeous illustartions in this book!

All in all: Read this. Just read it now.
Profile Image for Scrill.
407 reviews205 followers
February 16, 2018
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

Ten years ago Emi was marked by Amaterasu to be the vessel as her human host to inhabit. Since then she has been preparing her body and soul for the moment that the kami will join with her. One day she finds out a secret that unravels everything she was led to believe. With the help of her natural enemy, a yokai, she decide to get the truth about the impending ritual and what it means for her life.

The Story
Guys this was so good. At first I was a little skeptical. I originally started this because Sana & Tweebs were all gaga for this book, but my initial reaction was this is pretty good…but boring. My dear friend Amanda got the book though, and she’s a ridiculously fast reader and blasted through the series and insisted I continued on. I trusted her enough to do it and thank fully I did. Seriously, I was enraptured by the world building and visual aids in the book, but nothing really happens till 75 pages into the book. From that point on it was rather exciting as Emi discovered more about herself and what it means to be a kamigakari. I don’t want to give away too much about this book but let me just say that if you are a fan of manga/anime that involves yokai, then you need to read this book. Seriously, the Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita vibes are strong, but not in a rip-off sort of way.

I don’t normally say this, but I ship the characters SO hard even though the romance is very minimal. The story itself focuses mostly around Emi and her inner struggle as she ultimately decides if what she has been working for her entire life is worth the sacrifice. In the midst of her self discovery, she makes some new…allies and together they uncover a secret that connects them in ways they didn’t imagine.

The World Building

So a lot of you probably don’t know this about me. But I am what one might consider a Japanophile. I am a big fan of anime/manga (though haven’t really kept up recently). I studied Japanese and spent a few months over there studying culture. In fact, it’s been exactly 5 years since I went, and I miss it dearly. (Clearly this is a picture of me getting to wear a traditional kimono while I was there)

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I really enjoyed the Japanese infusion in these books. There are so many cultural aspects that are accurately (at least to my knowledge) used here, and only a great deal of research or knowledge could have brought this all together. As a fan, I greatly appreciated it all. Again, if you are someone who is a fan of manga/anime surrounding yokai, you will probably really get a kick out of this.

For those on the less obsessive scale, the book provides a glossary in the back with not only help pronouncing the (real) Japanese words, but also with definitions for them. On top of that the writing was so visually stunning, while I was reading I almost wanted to close my eyes in escape into my memories of my visits to the shrines.

One of the extra awesome parts of this book were the visual aids. The book has beautiful pictures!

Art is provided by Brittany Jackson and she is super talented. The book isn’t overrun by the pictures. It really just adds the extra dash of pizzazz to the book and it is just extra special for it.

The Characters
This has some of my favorite things. I mean, strong female character paired with a snarky kitsune? Be still my beating heart! I. JUST. CANT. I love them so much.

Emi-She’s so sweet and innocent at the beginning and I was like, look at this little prim and proper princess, live a little. Boy, does she live a little. I mean, she doesn’t go all buck wild..but she might as well have all things considering. Her responses to some of her first experiences are so cute, like not knowing how to hold a freaking hamburger (Just for your reading sake, I am say that as “ham bah gah” like I would if I was speaking Japanese and I am giggling to myself as I write this). Anyway, despite her lack of her experience in life she is so eager to be more than just a vassal, and I love her for admitting to herself that she didn’t even have a personality because of her preparation. Like yay, you’re special without having to be some amazing snow-flake. What’s so great about her though? She’s compassionate to her enemies and brave and tough despite her lack of fighting experience.

Shiro- You know how people have got it bad for sparkling vampires, werewolves, fae of the night court? Well I have it bad for kitsune. I blame the manga/anime Kamisama Hajimemashita . (excuse me if I disappear to binge watch it all over again)

Shiro is so cute with in his vulnerable state with his lack of power (and multiple wounds, poor guy!) I loved how much he intentionally just wanted to get on Emi’s nerves by saying things to make her blush. He may be sneaky, but he is still loyal to a fault and very protective. I just adore him.

I love Yumei too, but let me just say I am a sucker for those fox ears. I can’t wait to see what this Miko and her yokai friends get into in the next book!

宇野実彩子 – どうして恋してこんな (Misako Uno – Doushite Koi Shite Konna)

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Profile Image for Beatrice in Bookland.
448 reviews838 followers
December 10, 2017
"Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing."


First of all, why isn't this series as famous as it should be??

glee angry photo: giW4E.gif

It has literally everything you could ever want from a ya fantasy book:
- Emi, an amazing main character who grows and learns from her mistakes
- Shiro, the swoon worthy love interest (i love himmmmmm)
- Amazing and constantly developing worldbuilding
- Japanese mythology (I think it's supposed to be a retelling of many Japanese myths, correct me if I'm wrong!)
- Yumei, that one character who acts like a stone cold bitch but you just know he's a softie <3
- A sweet and flirty AND FORBIDDEN romance , with no trace whatsoever of instalove.
- S H I R O
- ok but did I mention Shiro?

Overall, I loved it - just in case it wasn't obvious. I'm starting the sequel as soon as possible.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,193 reviews2,929 followers
July 11, 2021

I can't really think of a single way this book could be improved. The only reason it's 4 stars and not 5 is because I am certain the sequels will be even better and I want to reserve full marks for them.

But let's slow down a bit and find out why this book is so good.

18-year-old Emi is a kamigakari, a human girl who's been raised her whole life to become a vessel of the Japanese goddess (kami) Amaterasu. Since she was eight years old she's lived a life of physical and mental purity, preparing for Amaterasu to descend on the winter solstice in a month's time and take over her body. She isn't sure exactly what the ritual entails, but it's a huge honour to have been picked and she can't wait for the solstice.

It's also made her a target. The yokai, dark earth spirits, are invested in ensuring that the kami can't descend, so they've been trying to take her life for the last decade. For her own protection she's sent to a tiny shrine in the middle of the wilderness, disguised as an ordinary miko (i.e. shrine maiden). But when she saves the life of Shiro, a yokai kitsune supposed to be her enemy, it sets into motion a chain of events which shatters her complacency in the future.

The romance is toe-curling. Shiro is my favourite kind of hero - a sly, mocking, charming trickster who keeps making the innocent and sheltered Emi blush. This is slow-burn, so nothing much happens in this book, but their connection is developing and its intensity takes my breath away.

Since the book is from Emi's (3rd person) perspective we get to know her very well, and it's a delight to see her blossom over the course of the book. She goes from a painfully reserved, law-abiding girl to one who's rebellious enough to infuse each chapter with life, whilst not becoming unrealistically brave.

Marie's use of mythology is on point. Now, with the disclaimer that I'm not Japanese so I wouldn't be aware of any errors, I loved the depth and complexity of the world which is woven for us in the novel. Miko, kannushi, Amatsukami, sohei, marugata... all these terms were thrown at us and achieved the perfect balance between info-dumping and not being explained enough.


Plot and characterisation are both spectacular. If you haven't yet, go read this book!

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Profile Image for Minni Mouse.
625 reviews961 followers
May 20, 2017
I stayed up until 3AM finishing this and well, that was just fantastically unexpected. The first 20% had me expecting some quirky Chosen One silliness but we soon morphed into a delightfully entertaining story filled with Japanese mythology, adventure, shameless flirts, intimidating dudes, and fantastic character growth for our heroine.

Emi is the Kamigakari - a human who will be the vessel for a powerful goddess at the next solstice. This means that between now and the next solstice, she has to stay out of trouble and she can't let many people know who she really is. Except that she keeps attracting and looking for trouble. Like Shiro, who is a mysterious spiritual being called a yokai. Yokai are bad news. Usually. Doesn't help that Shiro has trouble and secrets and mystery and smolders of his own.

1) I was delightfully entertained! I don't read a lot of books about Japanese mythology, but this one was wonderful! Loved the terms, the descriptions of the attire, the mythology.

2) Emi is a bit of a sad damsel in distress in the beginning. She's scared of water, she's hopeless and lonely, she trips over her feet, and she's timid. By the end, though, she finds the steel will to be fiercely loyal to her word, brave, and empowered. She's not a ninja or stealth assassin, but her character growth is just enough to be believable while still leaving room for more. And I liked that - I appreciated at this girl didn't become Xena Warrior Princess overnight.

Emi had complained to herself that no one ever treated her as a person, only as a kamigakari, but she hadn’t realized she was just as guilty as them of the same oversight. She’d molded herself into the role of the kamigakari so deeply, so completely, that she was now discovering something horrifying: she didn’t know who she was.

Emi the Kamigakari was a person she knew well, but Emi the Girl was a total stranger. What did Emi the Girl like? What did Emi the Girl want to do? What were her interests and passions? What did she care about?

2) Shiro is just all kinds of smolder and smirk and shameless flirt, and I am loving every bit of it. His backstory is so mysterious; the hints that we pick up tease that he's a real powerful and slightly dangerous dood, but the not knowing keeps us interested. But most of all? He's a cocky, shameless flirt and I love it.

“Are you?” She met his eyes, trying to see the truths he kept so carefully hidden. “Who are you then? Why are you bound by a curse so powerful only a Kunitsukami can remove it? Who bound you?”

He returned her stare, unblinking. Then he gave her a lazy grin. “Such intensity, little miko. Is it your desire to know me so intimately?”

3) There isn't outright romance - one kiss and subtle hints of a future love triangle - but it's the attraction and smolders that got me swooning. Shiro courting Emi is just like a much more subtle, slow-burn, G-rated version of Rhysand and Feyre from A Court of Mist and Fury.

4) The story itself was fun! I was intrigued meeting the Tengu and the kami vessels and sneaking out with Emi and Shiro to go on another adventure. I'm also pulled in by what we don't know - the beef that the oni have with Shiro specifically as well as who Shiro is, what happens when his curse is lifted, what's going to happen to Emi and what decision she will make now that she knows what's up. How are Fujimoto and Katsuo going to factor in next book, what other yokai are out there besides Shiro, etc. So much to look forward to in the next book!

The first 20% of the book didn't quite match the tone of the rest of the book, which was misleading. In the beginning of the book we had giggling schoolgirls, spying on cute boys, and a dull heroine. After that, we had action and adventure and monsters and we barely saw those giggling schoolgirls again. In fact, I'd say that the first 20% was largely overdrawn-out exposition because we don't truly start the story in motion until Emi meets Shiro...at the 30% mark. It's at that point that we learn a startling relegation about him and when Emi cashes in on a debt he owes her...which kickstarts everything into high gear.

I liked it! It was light and entertaining with plenty of easy adventure and light fantasy and shameless flirting to make this a wonderful delight. I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Thanks for the ARC, Net Galley and publishing crew!
Profile Image for Ashley.
800 reviews442 followers
July 26, 2020
July 26th, 2020– RE-READ!!!!!

Star Rating: RTC - Definitely 4 or 4.5 Stars though
(I’ve not completely decided whether I want to round up yet 🤔)

I absolutely loved this// I definitely recommend!

More on my indecision in my rtc... I think it is because I physically read only a small amount; most of this read was audiobook instead, which isn’t my fav, but I was super duper busy. Audiobookin’ changes things for me a lot of times, depending on the book.

Anyone else feel this way?

More later, folks!

BUT, btw...
MAN do I LOVE Japanese mythology. It is one of the most interesting and extensive (never a shortage of new information to devour 😍) topics in existence, in my opinion. I was just introduced to it (well, more than just extremely basic facts with no knowledge of the formal names for anything within it- except kitsune; oh and, ☺️ that a lot of anime is based upon it, obvs) last year... and I’ve had a thirst for it ever since... and I’m never lookin’ back!
Profile Image for Yeganeh.
545 reviews218 followers
December 28, 2021
“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

If you are someone who needs your fantasy books rich in worldbuilding and character development, with character-driven stories and a bit of mythology thrown in for kicks, then you should pick up this book. In fact, this book was essentially just like Fushigi Yuugi, so if you like the anime Fushigi Yuugi, you should pick this one up.

There’s forbidden romance, adventure, yokai battles, and friendships. With each book, the series gets better. There’s so many twists and turns. The action scenes were well executed. I loved the author’s writing style. The world building was amazing urban fantasy i want and I enjoyed every part of it.

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Her entire life had been forged by a terrible lie, and there was nothing she could do to change her fate.

Our main character Emi is the kamigakari–the chosen vessel for the goddess Amaterasu. Each of the gods will descend to Earth on the solstice ten years after marking the person (usually a child) whose body they will inhabit. Emi has never questioned her destiny, until she learns that instead of uniting with Amaterasu and sharing her body, Amaterasu will instead completely destroy Emi’s identity and effectively kill her.


I probably would not want to be friends with Emi if she were a real person–I’d most likely find her too annoying for being able to give up literally everything for an insubstantial reward–but reading her as a protagonist was okay. You could at least connect with her and empathize with her plight.

Though at some times she got a bit annoying; she nearly dies twice and both times survives because, protagonist powers! It really started to get repetitive. I enjoyed her character development throughout the series.

SHIRO was definitely the star of the series. His swoon worthy looks and flirty attitude will captivate every girl. I found his character very much enjoyable. His past was a mystery and with each book the author slowly revealed his true identity.
His amusement at her terror sparked a tiny surge of anger. “Let me go!”
“Ah, little miko, didn’t anyone ever tell you not to run from yokai?” His deep, purring voice sent a shiver across her skin. He leaned down as his hand on her throat forced her head back. He brushed his nose along her jaw, from her chin up to her ear. “It’s the surest way to make us pounce,” he whispered, his breath tickling her ear.


the question is...can you trust him? what does Shiro truly want? there must be some ulterior motive, right? this journey of trust and love throughout the trilogy is so, so beautiful. Shiro was seductive and methodical, I always desperately wanted to known what he was thinking. I loved Shiro with my whole heart and was easily obsessed with him.

The relationship between Shiro and Emi was definitely a slow burn. I’m glad that it wasn’t a insta-love. Their every interaction was pretty fun. There’s barely any romance in the first book, but don’t worry you still won’t be disappointed.
Touching him was forbidden. Kissing him was forbidden. Wanting him was forbidden.
Her fingers brushed over his lips and his warm breath tickled her hand, sending tingles rushing up her arm.


YUMEI is another major character in this series. If you like your heroes dark, complex, mysterious, and broody then this guy is just for you. He’s sort of shiro’s friend and also a tengu, a supernatural creature who’s half human and half bird. He acts pretty cold and he has this dark aura that makes everybody fear him, but he also has a soft side. He always stole the spotlight whenever he made an entrance.😎😎

Also, KATSUO is Emi’s sohei protector and her friend. He supported her in everything and was always there for her whenever she needed help. It’s pretty easy to guess that he has a forbidden crush on her. I really admired the friendship between them but I still can’t ship them.

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Japan's mythology is GORGEOUS. I'm blown away!!!

Almost as if they’re giving the cover a run for its money, this book also has the most gorgeous illustrations. I wish all the fantasy authors do these type of illustrations. I absolutely loved them!

like how gorgeous is this art????

By around 20%, the story picked up and I was completely captivated. Emily made one decision that took her on an entirely different path. And when the fox stepped into the picture, I couldn’t stop reading. The fox was a yokai, who were sometimes perceived as monsters and demons. Emi shouldn’t have helped him. Yet she did, since he protected her first. From there, this book took us on a wild and crazy ride that had me completely addicted.

also, For anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese, there is a glossary in the back of the book, as well as a graphic (not sure what it’s called) detailing the structure of the Japanese pantheon of gods.

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But I’m not just docking a star because, well, this is the first boy and obviously it wasn't flawless. for one, the beginning as slow , and i hope it doesn't go on a love triangle way 🙃 In the second half, our characters find themselves in the midst of a battle–Izanami, who would ostensibly be amicable if not friendly toward the girl who is eventually going to be the vessel for Amaterasu, is instead trying to kill Emi because… we don’t know. We don’t even get the slightest little hint as to what’s going on.

it sadening to see how only about 8k people have read this. it deserves more recognition, this beautiful book. and I'm glad i found this and am reading this finally for a while.

go read this instead of smut books with no plot and I'll be your friend 😊
Profile Image for spring ~♡.
403 reviews484 followers
April 23, 2021
such an underrated hidden gem

So many people are missing out this series. It has everything!

Emi is a kamigakari/chosen. Goddess Amaterasu will possess her body soon. And she is proud of it. Until she figures out some deadly truth about the whole ceremony. and somehow for the first time she wants to be more than a puppet doll.

So this is the main plot. Ring a bell? I thought maybe I'm gonna read another version of From Blood and Ash. Yeah..I wasn’t that thrilled either. Who wants to read the same story over and over again? unless it's a Beauty and the beast retelling. Turns out this book is a rich, gorgeous, more beautiful world building with realistic character development version of from blood and ash.

The romance also screams "ship them!!". I don’t know how to put Emi's character development with right words. Also, Shiro is...everything *sigh*

I literally know nothing about japanese myth. I was quite nervous to start this book because of that. But I'm so glad I did, did I mention the world building is gorgeous? I had no trouble understanding the world and the local myths.

Also, that cover.

I just can't wait to start Dark Tempest and possibly wear a kimono cause... Again that cover.

Here is my Playlist for Shiro and Emi cause why not?
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