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The Keeper of Night

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Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

393 pages, Hardcover

First published October 12, 2021

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About the author

Kylie Lee Baker

5 books542 followers
Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her work is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, & Irish) as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a BA in creative writing and Spanish from Emory University and is pursuing a master of library and information science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she plays the cello, watches horror movies, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

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5 stars
1,494 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,833 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews111k followers
December 30, 2021
Really enjoyed the descriptive writing, dark atmosphere, and concept of Reapers, especially with how they can "manipulate" time and all the imagery that comes with using those powers. Seeing the different yokai that the protagonist has to face throughout the book was fun as well!

I was eager to rate this 4 stars, but as I kept reading, I found too many issues that dropped it down to 3. The world-building feels incomplete and not fully thought out, especially when it deals with race. Why are Reapers only white people? Why is having black hair only associated with Asians? Why does it seem like the main character is the *only* mixed Reaper to ever exist in this book, considering that Reapers live for centuries of years and would have surely reproduced with different races by now? And why is being mixed looked down upon in this society? (There was a throwaway line about how Reapers are more archaic *because* they have lived for so long, but this still feels like a stretch.)

While it’s clear that the author writes from her own experience with being biracial, the discrimination against the protagonist doesn’t have a clear reason that makes sense within this fantasy world. I would understand if there were political conflicts between England VS Japan or racial tension between those two groups, but those don’t get mentioned at all. The stigma and shame of being biracial is such a big part of the protagonist’s angst to the point where she makes some very bad and dumb decisions for the sake of her character arc - I wish this had been developed better, especially if the author wanted to parallel to racism in the real world.

There are other world-building things that don’t make sense either, like how the protagonist crawled through a ventilation tunnel above a group of Reapers in order to escape, but it gets revealed later that Reapers have incredible hearing and can even hear heartbeats from far away. Or how a group of Reapers decide to slow down time to torture the protagonist, but it gets revealed later that manipulating time means taking years off your own life. Why would a group of mean girls sacrifice so much for the sake of being petty? There were no implications of a deep-seated grudge other than them being racist against her for being biracial (again, we don’t understand why people hate biracial identities so much in this fantasy world).

I’m also not a fan of characters making unintelligent decisions for the sake of conflict and character development, especially when in this case the protagonist prioritizes a handsome love interest she just met over her brother who she’s loved and known for centuries. I understand this new guy she’s instantly attracted to also represents the acceptance she badly craves, but this is a predictable setup where a character makes a stupid decision to get something they thought they wanted, then pay the consequences later and have to learn what they *truly* want, etc.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,508 reviews31k followers
March 23, 2021
okay, but like japanese folklore is actually terrifying? dont get me wrong - i love how dark this is and ive always said we need more morally grey characters/stories in YA genres - but i could have done without the spider yōkai. lol.

add to the scary nightmare monsters a little bit of ‘spirited away’ and some ‘shadow of the fox’ vibes, and you have this story.

the writing is highly immersive and vivid, letting the reader feel like they are on an adventure with the MCs. and i also appreciate how the book doesnt hold back. i finished this feeling like KLB put in everything she had into the characters, plot, and world-building, which left me highly satisfied.

and dont even get me started on the ending. if you hate cliffhangers, you have until october to mentally prepare yourself for it. :P

thanks so much to inkyard press for the ARC!!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Ayman.
191 reviews70.9k followers
October 14, 2021
ok shit this was so good. you want a morally grey mc? a villain origin story? read this motherfucking book. reading the Japanese mythology sewn into this was so refreshing. strong plot and strong characters. this books draws you in on the first page!

also idk how tf there can be a book 2 after this one. the fucking ending...i was legit crying and gasping for air but book 2 already has my money.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,471 reviews9,376 followers
March 10, 2023
Ren Scarborough has always felt like an outsider. Even though she has been collecting souls from the London streets for over two centuries, she nevertheless feels like an outcast among the Reapers.

Due to her mixed-race status as half-British Reaper, half-Japanese Shinigami, Ren has been treated very poorly by others in London.

Because of this, the only person she has ever felt really connected to is her half-brother, Neven.

When Ren has an altercation with some fellow Reapers who are bullying her, yet again, her Shinigami powers come through in a way she shouldn't have let them. Now she needs to flee to save herself.

Against her better judgement, Neven insists on going with her. Sacrificing the life he has known for a very unknown future. A sacrifice he is more than willing to make for the sister he loves.

Their destination: Japan, where Ren hopes she can learn more about her Mother and her Shinigami roots.

Arriving in Japan, Ren discovers she isn't necessarily accepted there either. It's so frustrating! She's out of place no matter where she goes.

In order to try to gain acceptance at last, Ren takes on a difficult quest from the Goddess of Death. She must find and eliminate three extremely dangerous Yokai demons, each one more frightening than the last.

This novel is absolutely enchanting. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Rebecca Yeo, completely drew me into the story. I was transfixed.

I immediately felt attached to Ren and Neven. Even though Ren feels out of place due to being mixed-race, Neven also feels out of place due to his general personality. He just wasn't cut out for death work. Both of them are outcasts and you can't help but feel invested in and protective of them.

After their arrival in Japan, they meet a man named Hiro. He was also extremely intriguing. A bit mysterious, is a he a rogue, or is he a charmer?

I was on the fence about him, but loved having him along for the quest. It added an interesting dynamic amongst the group that would have been missing otherwise.

The quest was fast-paced, high-stakes and absolutely steeped in stunning imagery from Japanese folklore, which I generally love to read.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who may be a fan of series such as Shadow of the Fox or Death Note. Also, highly recommend the audiobook as a format to take in this story. It's really well done.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had a great time reading this. It was deep, dark, haunting and heart-breaking; a stellar combination, if I do say so myself!
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,294 followers
October 13, 2021
This has to have been one of the coolest and most unique-sounding premises for a fantasy novel I’ve read this year. The Keeper of the Night follows Ren, a half Japanese Shinigami and half British Reaper, who lives with her brother Neven in London. After a dangerous run-in with fellow Reapers who have been maliciously targeting Ren for her mixed heritage, the siblings decide to flee the country instead of facing the wrath of their superiors. After a tumultuous journey they end up in Japan, where Ren is seeking out both the mother who abandoned her and the Japanese Goddess of Death.

Her assigned tasks are both simple and immense: in order to join the Shinigami, Ren must destroy three Yōkai demons that are threatening the peace. Armed with only her clock, her brother and a new companion, Ren sets off to do the impossible and try to claim her place in Yomi, the Japanese underworld.


The absolute best part of the book was the lore around Reapers, Shinigami and all the Japanese mythological subjects. Some legends, like the nine-tailed fox, I was already somewhere familiar with, but others were completely new and occasionally terrifying. The Keeper of the Night is not a story about magical people exploring an enchanting new world, it’s about *literal* harbingers of death going from violently removing the souls of the soon-to-be deceased to violently killing other lethal supernatural beings. Nearly every character we meet has a brutal streak and is unafraid to act on it.

While characterizations like this would normally a home run for me, on Ren it feels a little different. She’s not human and rarely acts like one, so everything she does has a layer of coldness covering it. Her brother, the only one who shows real humanity, is written off as weak whenever he shows this part of himself. Their relationship was both tenuous and devoted, but never quite reaching loving, so I had trouble seeing exactly how Ren felt about Neven. Yes she cares for him, but to what extent? This is a major theme in the book but I don’t feel as though we ever get a consistent answer to it.

I ended up listening to this book only because I was approved for an ALC and not for an ARC, but if I had the option to do it again I might have just waited. It was a little hard, in a story with Japanese words and plenty of mythology from both Japan and England, to recognize and remember all of the new words the narrator was saying. I wasn’t confused necessarily, but at the very least I might have liked a reference list of unfamiliar terms. The narrator did a good job overall, but I think there might have less of a disconnect if I could have followed along on a digital or physical copy.

Overall I liked it, just not as much as I thought I would. I feel like the ending came out of nowhere and eventually left me hanging, and I don’t know if my questions were intentionally left unanswered or not. I’m not sure if the next in the series will offer any clarity, but if I do end up picking it up, I’ll be sure to have a written copy handy.

*Thanks to Dreamscape Media, Inkyard Press & Netgalley for an advance listening copy!

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,925 followers
January 16, 2022
Even though I generally enjoyed this story, the plot fell into a trope that I wasn't looking for in this book. Stupid decisions were made for the sake of conflict and that ultimately pulled from my enjoyment.

Theoretically, this would be a book that I would have fallen head over heels for. It has all the aspects that I love: dark fantasy, Spirited Away type of monsters that are creepy in that intriguing way, structured underworld revolving around Reapers and Shinigami… but somewhere after the first part, nothing was hitting for me.

I do acknowledge that the book achieved what it wanted to achieve in that it's an adventurous story that highlights Japanese mythology and a diasporic main character while revolving around a central sibling dynamic. I can see this being loved by people who liked the concept of Spin the Dawn but didn't like the execution.

”“Will it hurt?” he whispered.
I let him wait in suspense for my answer. I did not blink, did not breathe, only looked down at him with an unchanging expression.
“I wouldn’t know,” I said. “I’ve never died.””

There’s this trope that’s becoming popular in YA fantasy where the main character gets to the this place that they have always wanted to go to and end up having to complete certain missions (usually three) in the journey to finding herself. (And they meet this charming but mysterious boy along the way that ends up helping them). Not that it’s a bad plot line and I was curious. And though it did have it’s own twist and turns with a theme that I admire, it's tiresome to read if that's not what you're want at that time. Which was me, I’m talking about myself.

The beginning of this book was quick to impress because I thought it was going to be a hard magic system but I was a bit disappointed when the structured system gave away around the 30% mark. Which, to me, was weird given that there was a Reaper council and it seemed like it was building up to something more at first. It doesn’t help that the magic system was just full of loopholes that I couldn’t unsee and what I expected to be a hard magic system was actually soft.

This quote did warm my heart:

“When Neven took the souls of children, he held their hands and sang them lullabies. He let the older ones pray and told them stories about what awaited them in Heaven, how everything there was beautiful and nothing would ever hurt them again. But because of me he would never have friends, never join the High Council, never be anyone but the Shinigami’s brother. He could have forsaken me like our father, but instead he brought me stray cats and built book towers over me while I slept and cast shadow puppets on the walls while I tried to read.”

Hiro was fun at first (and initially the reason I kept reading) and I loved Neven. Though, not that much happened in terms of the inter-character relationships and I think the fact that I didn’t love the main character that much affected my overall enjoyment. I think that Ren's position, being torn between London and Japan, was an interesting concept that I loved but I just was not sucked into her emotions and goals. We didn't really see her fall in love and have the built up nuance with London and the Reapers so it was just a little hard for me feel that nuance and the complicated feelings brought by having to give that up in order to become a Shinigami.

I really did like the fact that it was relatively not /that/ much focused on a romance and the sibling dynamic was given more weight. The way that the spirits/monsters were based on Japanese myths was a really nice touch. The full-blown diaspora rep was also one of my favorite parts. It was still an enjoyable read but the smaller arcs felt a bit tedious that I was kinda waiting for it to end.

The mechanisms and details were cleanly put together but I just couldn't overlook my dislike for the flow of the plot + lack of investment in the main character and much of what was going on. The image and dynamics of the two relationships that I was invested on the most: the sibling relationship and Hiro, were both somewhat destroyed by the end of the book that it just left me 'meh'.

This is a dark and adventurous Japanese-inspired YA fantasy that revolves around a brother-sister relationship all throughout. If you like the kind of books where they need to fulfill missions, meet characters on the way, and there’s a twist in the end, you’ll like this book. The prose isn't that deep and it's an easy read.

I have nothing else to say okay bye

— 3.0 —
content warnings// Animal Death, Bullying, Child abandonment, Death, Emotional neglect of a child, Emotional Abuse, Graphic Violence, Gore, Grooming, Murder, Racism, Fantasy Xenophobia,

pre-read review
'spirited away' type of monsters + morally grey characters + dark japanese mythology ??

i love it here
Profile Image for Jasmine.
214 reviews203 followers
October 12, 2021
This YA fantasy novel inspired by Japanese folklore had me hooked from the very first page.

Ren Scarborough is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. For most of her life, Ren has, at best, felt like she hasn’t belonged, and at worst, hated because of her mixed heritage.

One fateful night, Ren loses control over her powers and accidentally injures three High Reapers. Rather than suffer severe punishment, Ren decides to flee to Japan with her brother Neven, where Ren hopes to find her identity. In Japan, things do not come as naturally as Ren had hoped, and she ends up going on a quest to carve a place for herself among the Shinigami of her birth country.

This novel incorporates plenty of dark and fantastical elements of Japanese folklore, including Shinigami (death spirits), yōkai (supernatural spirits), Yomi (the Underworld), the nine-tailed fox, and much more. Before reading this, I knew relatively little about Japanese folklore and mythology, but now I am very excited to learn more.

This novel is set in the late 1800s and due to that fact, Ren endures a lot of racism and Othering. There are discussions on belonging, white fragility, identity, and family.

As I mentioned, this book hooked me from the first page. My one critique would be the insta-love relationship, although I will say that it goes to very unexpected places, places that had me shocked and wickedly delighted.

I cannot wait for book two in this incredible duology.

Thank you to Inkyard Press for the ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for nessma.
180 reviews94 followers
November 6, 2021
12.10.2021 — i had the pleasure of inviting the amazing author, kylie lee baker, on my blog for an exclusive interview!!! check it out here to find out more about the inspirations behind this epic book, writing own-voices biracial identity & MORE!!!



the keeper of night is a rich historical young-adult fantasy with explorations of identity, family, love and belonging—all intricately interwoven through deliciously dark japanese mythology and folklore.

half british reaper and half japanese shinigami, ren scarborough navigates us through a world so lush and vibrant with such an electrifying magic system. through our main character, it was not difficult at all to get used to the world and magic and how it works. kylie lee baker does an excellent job in easing us into it in a way that seems so effortless. the pacing can be jarring but it worked for me just as well.

it's safe to say this was one of my top anticipated reads of this year—and it did not disappoint! i cannot explain how many mixed feelings i've had for this book as i read. for the first 70% or so i hated so many aspects; i was furious, frustrated and ready to rate it so much lower. all until all the dots connected in the last third of the book and it turns out i was rightly supposed to feel conflicted. so i say that is a success!

‣ world & setting — one of the (if not the) best aspect in the book for me. we follow ren from london to japan and the world unfurls from there. the intricacies within the world-building that the author creates are fascinating to unravel one by one as we delve deeper into the unknown world of japan and the den where death herself resides. i'm still mesmerized by it and so excited to read more of it as the next installments of the series come.

‣ characters & dynamics — ren makes for the best fit for a main character as she is biracial and suffers through figuring out her identity and where she belongs, and so it was interesting to see how that gelled well in a magical setting. her dynamic with her brother has me feeling so conflicted... poor neven getting dragged along and being the only voice of reason throughout this whole book had me livid at times. ren feels sorry for herself and that aspect about her often toys with her morals—but i understood her by the end. however, my favorite character throughout most of the book was hiro; without spoiling, i'll just say there is so much depth to him, i loved him and he continued to surprise me till the last page!

‣ plot & stakes — this book is not for the faint of heart. aside from the gore and dark themes, it takes a surprising turn to present unconventional characterization and dynamics that makes the plot and stakes really interesting. the stakes were high, save for a tiny bit of predictability in certain parts and plot devices conveniently used... but ultimately, most issues that first appeared to me as flaws were sooner or later called out on by the book itself and proven to be intentional.

‣ writing & prose — i like! there's something about it that keeps me glued to the page. kylie lee baker is talented. i was never, never bored—so that says a lot! i loved the occasional quotes sprinkled in, they were not generic at all and delicately added at the right place and time to deliver a meaning. i can't wait for this book to be out so i can scream about some of these lines!!

‣ climax & conclusion — i could have NOT seen that climax coming. i had my doubts of course... but that?! i had my jaw on the floor. i wish i could insert my reactions to every single line as i read the infamous chapter 21. what an experience. it really tied the knot and made sense out of the confusion i was drenched in. i LOVED it.

so, really, the only reason i knocked off half a star is because of the few inconsistencies i picked up on and a few conveniences and out-of-character moments that only helped move the plot along—some things were conveniently placed as plot devices, but luckily in the end it didn't take much from my overall enjoyment of the book.

if anything else will convince you to read this book, let it be this note quoted from my kindle notes as i read the ending: "oh my god i am witnessing the end of the world right in front of my eyes."

content warning: ableism, racism, sexism, blood, gore, dismemberment, decapitation, cannibalism, death of loved ones, murder and attempted murder, violence, stabbing, death from exposure to the cold, drowning, exile, bullying, mention of stillborn child, disability, death (on-page + discussed frequently), emotional neglect of a child, mentions of child abandonment, implied sexual content.

— digital arc provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
November 4, 2021
Sort of cool in a Japanese shinigami-inspired way.
Everything I saw was a story that had been stolen from me. (c)
Of course he expected me to have a plan, as if I’d spent my life drawing up escape strategies instead of learning languages and reading poetry. (c)
the edges of the human world looked soft and unreal in the daylight, like beautiful illusions that would disappear and leave me back in my stone-cold loft. I felt untethered, the weight of my clothes and the suitcase in my right hand the only things keeping my feet on the ground. (c)
“Come on,” I said, setting a hand on his arm that I hoped conveyed some sort of warmth instead of the panicked urgency I felt hammering through my whole body. “Most of the sharks in the channel are harmless.”
“Is that your idea of reassurance?” (c)
I heard the whisper of waves crawling onto shore, the sound of leaves shivering against each other, the wind that hummed from far away.
The hush of leaves in the wind was a thousand formless whispers, both in my ear and a hundred miles away. Ocean waves sighed over our feet and shattered like glass. Even the air resonated with the heavy and faraway hum of a bell toll. The underworld felt alive in a way that the living world never did. (c)
“You can control time and light, but you prefer human weapons?” Hiro said, raising an eyebrow.
“How else will I actually kill the Yokai? Do you expect me to clobber them with my clock? Sparkle them to death with candlelight?” (c)
With no friends to speak of, I had always spent my time outside of collecting with Neven and books and nothing else, just the two of us and all the words in the universe at our disposal, and that was the way I preferred it. (c)
How could I possibly feel so close to the precipice of unraveling, so powerful yet so untethered? I was a butterfly twisted inside a tornado, the brightest colors between day and night, a little brown bird in the maw of a fox, waiting for the teeth to bite down. (c)
Profile Image for Darcey.
913 reviews192 followers
October 16, 2021
ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.
Buddy read with dear Karen!


Three Minute Thoughts:

This book was plenty entertaining and certainly captivating, and the mythology and magic systems – though a little under-explained – were unique and wonderful to read about. The characters were powerfully morally-grey – all except for my precious baby Neven, an angel in the shape of a Reaper. Plus, I loved the amazing biracial rep!
I’m so glad I read this, and I recommend it to lovers of morally-grey characters, violent fantasy, and plot-twists to give you whiplash.

The Extended, Long, and Very-Probably-Messy Review:

I’m not 100% sure what to think of this book. On one hand, I loved the biracial rep (as a biracial person myself) and I can absolutely understand the feeling of not belonging and separation from one side of your culture. I loved all of that rep and all of those beautifully depicted feelings, and I’m so glad a book like this exists to others out there who might feel like no-one understands. However, at the same time, I was a little let-down by the ending to this book.

Let’s start with the good! This book was beautifully written, had a magical mythological aspect, and the characters were so morally-grey it hurt. Our MC, Ren, was angry and violent and unpredictable and such an incredibly refreshing character to read about. She most certainly wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t even pretend to be civil and act politely – she put up with a grand total of zero crap. Well, except for from one person. But we’ll talk about that later. Anyway, I loved Ren so much, and another thing I loved was her relationship with her brother, Neven, the only person she actually liked. Well-written platonic relationships bring me joy in life, and Neven was such a cute little cinnamon-bun that I couldn’t help but want to love and protect him forever.

“Everyone has terrible parts inside them, even if they pretend otherwise. You’re just honest about it.”
“Not Neven.”

(This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

The writing in The Keeper of Night was also amazing! I can’t wait to read more of the author’s work, because she has undeniable talent in creating worlds and drawing people in with her prose.

“She knew then that the fabric of her soul was neither time nor light, but the pattern of stars over a restless sea, and stories whispered in catacombs, and steamship journeys to faraway lands, and her brother’s hand in hers. The names that she had fought for meant nothing in the loneliness of eternity.”
(This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

Now, my biggest issue was that I wished there was a little more depth for the mythology – I loved the idea of time magic and light magic, but we didn’t get much description of either, which was a little sad. I also loved the whole quest idea with killing the yokai etc, but they were just so easy to kill? I expected there to be a little more of a struggle, and for it to only get harder after the first yokai, but the last two yokai were much easier to get rid of. A bit of a let-down.
I also wasn’t sure what to think about the ending, but now that I’ve let it settle a little more, I do think I loved the massive plot-twists and major turn-around at the end there! I’m definitely interested in seeing where this series continues, and what direction the author decides to take us.

All in all, I was definitely very captivated by The Keeper of Night, and I look forward to seeing what else the author comes up with! There were perhaps a few issues that stuck out to me, but overall this book was amazingly enjoyable and a beautiful masterpiece of moral greyness combined with cute cinnamon-bun sweetness. Not 100% sure if this review makes sense at all because it’s 12am, but anyway, I do recommend checking this out! An amazing debut. Thank you so much to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review❤.


Profile Image for gauri.
178 reviews386 followers
November 17, 2021
check out the full review on my blog!

"Why am I the only one with no say in who I am?"

Seriously, this book has no business being this addicting.

Albeit, at first I struggled to read it because of the comparatively slow pace, but when I did get invested in it I ended up loving it so much. The Keeper of Night is the dark historical Asian fantasy of my dreams! If you like morally grey characters with a dash of dark romance be sure to pick this up.

richly explored japanese folklore
The strongest and my favourite aspect of The Keeper of Night is its worldbuilding which is inspired by Japanese culture and folklore, which by the way, is gory and actually horrific?? The concept of Shinigami and what they do is honestly so creative. Asian inspired worlds and books are the ones I hold close to my heart, so this one definitely checked that box for me. I loved diving into the different stories and learning about the underworld of Japan and its creatures. It immediately drew me in with all its creepiness, violence and vivid imageries. Actually, this book should be perfect for the spooky season.

ren's character arc
Ren is such a well written main character. Her struggles as a biracial Asian girl—not fitting in either worlds (British or Japanese) and being constantly told who she is—felt so raw to read about. I could really understand her anger and her desperation to prove herself as a rightful Shinigami. I really think this book will make mixed readers feel seen.

Apart from that, I will say Ren can come of as a total bitch making questionable characters but well, what good are morally grey characters otherwise? Her character arc is one of the best I’ve read, she’s flawed and she only gets worse as she chases the darkness that’s in her core all to make a place for herself. She wants to be a Shinigami and feel accepted but to what extent will she go to achieve her feat? When you read the last couple chapters and see the consequences, it’s honestly so pleasing.

great character dynamics
The relationship between Ren and her Reaper brother, Neven, as it moves from mutual adoration to being tense is satisfying. I loved Neven’s character, his human heart despite being a reaper. I really sympathised with him—as he just wanted to support his sister but instead got dragged into the mess and for being the only sensible character throughout—so I’m really eager to see what he’s up to in the sequel.

Hiro, ah I love Hiro. I don’t want to spoil anything by talking about him but he’s so precious and I totally understood him. Though the outcome of his romance with Ren was predictable, seeing it all unfold was the real joy. Because these relationships form the stakes for the story. This trio is so fun to follow, as they have their own personal motivations but also we get the slightest glimpse of a bond between them.

Like I said earlier, once I got immersed into it, Kylie’s easy flowing writing with detailed and visual descriptions accompanied me through the book. The prose is really simple, but powerful to highlight every character and create the atmosphere filled with death. After reading it, you might say “I saw that coming” and frankly so did I, but it is an experience. As the events unfolded I was glued to the words, the chills and horror sinking into me when I realised how it would end.

TLDR; The Keeper of Night is a grimdark historical fantasy that takes you through 1800s Japan, featuring an antiheroine main character and a fast paced story. You really don’t want to miss this one!

Thank you Inkyard Press and Netgalley for the ARC!
Profile Image for Amanda at Bookish Brews.
270 reviews161 followers
October 16, 2021
I literally can't tell you how much I cried reading this. Ren is the character I needed to understand me when I was a teenager and still need today. I am not alone 😭

Read my full review of me gushing about how incredible this book is over at Bookish Brews. Here's a preview:

Brilliant, stunning, validating, emotional, dark, atmospheric, magical, creepy

The Keeper of Night is my most anticipated book of 2021. I’ve been waiting to read it since long before the cover was revealed. Ever since I heard that there was biracial Asian representation that actually delves into the intricacies of biracial experience, I’ve been holding this title close to my heart, knowing that it would be stunning. When I first picked this up I immediately started crying because I felt like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this book. And I have. The way that Ren didn’t feel accepted in England with the Reapers, even though she is half Reaper. The way everyone around her only focused on her otherness felt all too close to home and something that I’ve never felt in a book before. I found myself needing to take breaks in order to savor this book to take in the beauty and representation. I can tell you truly that I have never felt more seen while reading a book.

The Keeper of Night is about an angry biracial half Reaper and half Shinigami, Ren. Inheriting the powers of both sides, she spent her whole life not being accepted as a Reaper and hiding her Shinigami side as much as she could to fit in. When she accidentally lets her Shinigami power show, in self defense, she knows she has to run away to stay safe. Being told she is only a Shinigami her whole life, she knows the only place to run to is Japan, only to find out that fitting into a country you’ve never been to isn’t as easy as anticipated.

Continue reading...

pre-read excitement:

I'm so so excited I got a copy of this book early 😭 This is MY MOST ANTICIPATED book of the entire year. A book with a mixed main character that actually dives into some of the complexities that come with that is literally a dream come true for me. Thank you so much Kylie for writing this, I am so so excited. 😍

*I received a free copy of this book, stay tuned for a review!*

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Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,075 followers
December 24, 2021
i had so much fun reading this one! that ending especially was WILD. i loved the way the author weaved in various elements of japanese mythology. i also really appreciate how the experience of the main character is an allegory for the experience of diaspora/mixed race asians. i think a lot of people will connect with ren’s experiences and anger. i ALSO really liked how dark this book got. if you’re someone who always wishes you could read about a truly morally gray main character, this one is def for you.

my main complaint would be that some themes felt a bit repetitive and maybe sometimes a bit too obvious, and the storytelling could have flowed better at times. but neither of these things had much of an impact on my overall enjoyment of the story, especially read via audiobooks, which i also def recommend!
Profile Image for cherelle.
179 reviews156 followers
October 2, 2022
The Keeper of Night just reaped my entire soul and I am not okay.

Read my full review here on my blog!

"The world will fall silent and the Reaper will knock three times on your bedroom door."

The darkness has taken over and I am obsessed.


Review to come! <3

"I was not calm and impartial, the way Reapers were supposed to be. I was not skilled and precise, the way Shinigami were supposed to be. I was nothing but Death that bled from every organ and anger so vicious that it would tear the sky to shreds, drain the oceans dry and crack the universe into two"

The Keeper of Night: ★★★½
Untitled #2

Thank you to the author: Kylie Lee Baker, Inkyard Press and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of TKON for a sincere review.
Profile Image for Jordan.
495 reviews35 followers
September 26, 2021
Rating: Alright = 2 stars

I was really looking forward to reading this book, especially during the spooky season. It sounded perfect: Ren is a Reaper of London with mixed heritage. Her father was a British High Reaper, and her mother was a Japanese Shinigami. She has spent her first few centuries collecting souls in London, but she is a hated outcast because of her mixed heritage and her Japanese appearance. She is tormented by the other Reapers until one day things go too far and get out of hand. She is forced to flee from the High Reapers, and her half-brother who loves her unconditionally goes with her. Ren seeks out Japan and the Shinigami among whom she was born, and goes on a quest to earn herself a place among them.

What I Liked:
+ I enjoyed all the mythology in this book. Ren hunts down different Yokai as part of her task to become a true Shinigami, and we learn about the different Yokai and the mythology around them as she figures out how to take them down. The Japanese setting was a nice change from all the European settings we see so often

+ A huge focus in this book was on Ren's mixed heritage and how she never really fit in anywhere. She was just searching for a place to belong and people to accept and love her.

What Didn't Work for Me:
- This novel read very, very young. It honestly didn't even feel like YA because there was SO much showing and so much repetition of thoughts and the big themes that ran throughout. The characters were two dimensional, and we were told over and over that Ren is dark and twisted, Hiro is irresistible, and Neven is so good, but none of them really developed a personality. I think that the intention in this was to have an unlikable heroine, but to me she wasn't even unlikable, she was just very bland. I couldn't dislike her, really, because there wasn't enough substance to dislike or like.
- This book just felt to me like it was following a cookie cutter outline. The setting and mythology makes it somewhat different, but it felt like an old tired story, which was really disappointing because reading the premise, I was so excited.
- The romance is really strange in this one. It is basically insta-love, and there is no reason for either of the characters involved to really care about the other. I thought it was a bizarre relationship that made no sense.
- The twists in this were so blatantly obvious that it was almost frustrating. I also thought the end was incredibly unsatisfying and non-sensical. I know that this is supposed to be the first entry in a duology, so obviously everything isn't going to be wrapped up but it just felt like the ending was really out of place.

Overall, I did not enjoy this one at all. It was fine, but definitely not something I recommend or one that I will continue with.

Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It releases on October 12.
Profile Image for Kylie Lee Baker.
Author 5 books542 followers
Want to read
August 10, 2021
Thank you so much to everyone who’s read THE KEEPER OF NIGHT so far! I’m just here to drop some content warnings and then run away. I don’t hang out on this page, so if you want to reach me, your best bet is the contact form on my website (kylieleebaker.com) and your second best bet would be my Twitter (@KylieYamashiro) or Instagram (@kylieleebaker).

Content Warnings: death (on-page + discussed frequently), racism, sexism (brief), ableism, bullying, emotional neglect of a child, mentions of child abandonment, violence, murder, blood, gore. This book is primarily fantasy but does have some horror elements. And because I see this question come up a lot for upper YA books: sexual content is implied but there are no on-page sex scenes.

If you think something should be added to this list or have questions about specific content warnings, please feel free to reach out to me!

More than anything, I hope this book speaks to all the biracial readers out there who never felt like their problems were big enough to be seen. I hope that underneath all of the monsters and magic and myths, you can see that this is, at its heart, a story about a girl who just wants to belong somewhere, and that you make space for people like Ren in your life (well maybe people who are a little less stabby, but you know what I mean).
Profile Image for kashvi.
118 reviews129 followers
October 17, 2021
My review is up on my BLOG

Read this book if you want to see:
- 1890s Japan
- A book packed with Japanese folklore
- A biracial protagonist struggling to fit in
- A mysterious love interest
- And a wholesome yet conflicting sibling dynamic
Profile Image for Hannah.
161 reviews93 followers
October 12, 2021

This is the historical fantasy morally-grey Wasian MC book of my dreams. There is no better feeling than when a highly anticipated read meets your expectations. Now I'm just upset that I'll have to wait over a year for the next book after that ending.

The Keeper of Night is the first book in a historical fantasy duology by debut author Kylie Lee Baker. Ren Scarborough is a Half British Reaper and a Half Japanese Shinigami who collects souls on the streets of London. In a world where she is despised for her mixed-heritage (both as a half-Japanese and half-Shinigami), Ren is constantly facing torment from Reapers. When she accidentally loses control of her Shinigami powers, she is forced to leave Japan with her fully Reaper brother, Neven, and flee to Japan. She enters the Japanese underworld, and with a mysterious ally named Hiro, accepts a task to kill three Yokai demons.

The Keeper of Night had some of the best characters that I had the pleasure of reading about. Not only are they all very well developed while also leaving some guesswork for the readers, but they still manage to be morally grey and likeable at the same time. My favorite character was obviously Ren. As an #ownvoices half-Asian and half-White reviewer, I'm always excited to see someone like me in a novel. It's rare, however, that there is a character as well represented as Ren was—especially in a fantasy novel. There were so many lines in this book that absolutely made me bawl because they were so relateable. I could just really feel and understand Ren's anger at how she wasn't accepted as a Shinigami or a Reaper. For many mixed readers, this book will make you feel incredibly seen. Ren was incredibly compelling as a main character and I found myself routing for her even when she made some questionable decisions. Her character arc was so amazing and I look forward to reading more about it in the sequel. Neven, Ren's little brother, is a character that I fell hard for at the beginning. I slowly became more and more annoyed with him as the book went on, but after finishing, I have no idea where I stand. I love the way he was written with many flaws, even though he was "younger." Sometimes, when authors write the very sweet and kind character, it feels very flat. But this was certainly not the case for Neven. And of course I can't forget about Hiro. *take a deep breath* I LOVE HIRO. I honestly don't know if I'm supposed to, but I love him. I don't want to spoil anything, but WOW I cannot wait for the second book. (Also I kept imagining him as Tadashi from Big Hero 6 woops).

I absolutely loved the worldbuilding of The Keeper of Night. It was so unique and refreshing to see a young adult book with such expansive worldbuilding. The whole premise behind the Reapers and the Shinigami was just so genius on Kylie Lee Baker's part. I love urban/historical fantasy and seeing the magic system incorporated into the real life setting is just so cool. The descriptions of the underworld were so amazing. The writing was so vivid and provided great imagery that allows the reader to truly become immersed in this story. The worldbuilding is just so well done and I applaud Baker for it.

Although I am definitely a fan of character-driven novels, the plot is essential for keeping my attention. The Keeper of Night did an excellent job with it. The plot was engaging and grabbed my attention from the beginning. I will say, however, that there were a few duller moments in the book. But it was overall very fast paced and I was sucked in immediately. Of course, the trope of a quest to kill some dangerous magical being is a little overused, but the incorporation of Japanese mythology really helped it from feeling like I've read it before.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I really enjoyed The Keeper of Night. It was a book that I have had my eye on for a while and I'm so grateful that I was given the opportunity to read it early. This book made me feel so seen and it's so validating to see a character who looks and thinks like me. The characters, worldbuilding, and plot were amazing and this would definitely appeal to readers of young adult literature.

Thank you to Inkyard Press for sending me this physical ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Fabiano.
110 reviews43 followers
September 8, 2022
DNF Pag. 165

Di questo libro salvo solo l'ambientazione e i rimandi alla cultura Giapponese. Storia e personaggi sono mediocri e farciti di cliché banali e scontati.
Profile Image for Tammie.
317 reviews563 followers
September 5, 2021
Thank you to Inkyard Press for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

One of the easiest 5 stars I've given all year, hands down. I sometimes can't believe it's a debut novel because it is absolutely incredible. The writing is so lush and atmospheric, the characters are complex, and the plot is incredibly fast-paced and addictive. What more could you want in a book?

I'm not a huge spooky season kinda person, but I can assure you that if any book were to be the epitome of spooky season, it would be this book. This is a dark fantasy with some horror elements, and while I'm not an expert in horror, I felt like those elements were executed very well. Kylie Lee Baker also manages to keep the book feeling suspenseful throughout, which made this a book that I did not want to put down.

I also just fundamentally loved seeing a story about a biracial main character actually by a biracial author. The amount of care, nuance, and passion put into Ren's character and how she grapples with her identity as both a Reaper and a Shinigami were so well done and heartbreaking at times. While I am not biracial and cannot speak to or fully understand that experience, I can certainly understand what it feels like to feel like you are a part of two different world and don't fully fit into either, and because of that, a lot of Ren's internal struggles really resonated with me.

I loved our cast of characters, even though I was suspicious of everyone and didn't trust anyone (except precious little bean Neven), and I think that says a lot about Kylie Lee Baker's ability to write interesting, complex, and morally grey characters. My only minor criticism is that I didn't love the romance in this book, but I also didn't feel like it took away from my enjoyment of the story either.

Overall, this is by far one of my favourite books of the year. If you are into dark fantasies, atmospheric and descriptive writing, lovable but morally grey characters, books with a heavy focus on mythology and folklore, with a healthy dose of gore, this is the book for you. I cannot express enough how much I adore this book and I really hope you will give this one a chance!
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,977 reviews3,295 followers
September 24, 2021
If the idea of a dark YA fantasy with a morally gray main character and creepy Japanese mythology sounds appealing, you should definitely check out The Keeper of Night.

The story opens in a gripping way that throws you right into the life and experiences of Ren- half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami and struggling to find a place where she can be entirely accepted. At its core this is a book about identity, family, and the experience of being a person of mixed race where both sides reject you and see you as lesser.

Ren has been raised in London where she reaps souls and tries to avoid the young Reapers who torment her for her difference. But when she reveals a secret about her power, she's forced to go on the run with her younger half-brother and Ren is determined to track down the Japanese mother who gave her up.

This book brings Japanese mythology to life and let me tell you, a lot of it is very dark and violent! I didn't expect how creepy this would be, at times almost leaning into horror, but it's kind of perfect heading into spooky season. Ren is hurt, angry, and willing to do anything for the acceptance she has been denied. But will she lose her own soul in the process? This does have a dark romantic subplot as well, but I don't want to say too much about it. Suffice to say I have a feeling that given the YA love for dark and brooding love interests, we're probably going to be see some fan art of this character.

Overall, I really liked this and it's a very strong debut. There were times the pacing didn't totally work for me and moments where the YA angst and tropiness was a bit too much for my personal taste, BUT that was very much overshadowed by the use of Japanese mythology, the cool and creepy world-building, and having an angry, murderous female MC. Definitely one to watch. The audio narration is really great as well and I would especially recommend it if you're unfamiliar with these Japanese terms and their pronunciation. I received an advance audio copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,693 reviews855 followers
July 14, 2022
"Are you injured?" I said, looking down at Hiro's foot.
He let out a sharp laugh. "Not recently, no. I sustained a severe paper cut on Tuesday, though, and I'll have you know that I didn't even cry."

"Ren!" Neven said, grabbing his suitcase back. "Don't use my luggage to hurt people!"
"He's fine! I aimed away from his nose and teeth."
"You hit his head!"
"Bones heal faster than cartilage."

I adored this 💛

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Ren (mc) is Japanese-English: Japanese setting & scs.

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseStoryGraph
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
666 reviews91 followers
October 5, 2021
Bring on the morally grey characters and complicated endings, it’s fall! Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for my proof of The Keeper of Night! This is a YA fantasy with Japanese mythology, and I still enjoyed it quite a bit as an adult

I liked the premise here, a young British Reaper is also half Japanese Shinigami, and she is bullied by the other Reapers. They don’t treat her much better in Japan and she just goes into this totally selfish spiral of darkness after being forced out of London. Her brother, Neven, would have followed her to the ends of the world and I was surprised by Ren’s lack of empathy towards him, how brutal!

I guess that’s what makes a good morally gray character, their self serving attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to reach their goals.

It was cool to get a look at Japanese mythology and legends too, especially the underworld.  Baker does a great job with descriptive language, world building, and setting.  I felt like I was there, seeing the sights and smells, being crushed by darkness, wondering what would come next.  A very immersive read.

The magic system was pretty low key, the Reapers had a very cool time turning ability and a lot of the Japanese folklore involved abilities as well.  It was well described and once again I liked the concept of magic/legends/beings only being susceptible to the fatal influences of their own culture.

This is a great October read. I’m shocked that it’s a debut. Minus a few wordy forays into similes and purple prose that I thought hurt the flow – it was beautifully descriptive enough without going over the top those few times!  I thought overall it was a mature enough novel to enjoy as an adult.

There was some humor and good dialogue too, as well as a darker romance, but my favorite part was definitely the legends and stories.

Overall? This is an interesting, fast paced novel with good themes, morally questionable main characters, lovely language, and fresh mythology
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,371 reviews1,835 followers
October 22, 2021
I don't know about you but I hadn't heard much about THE KEEPER OF NIGHT. So if, like me, you were oblivious to its existence.. you may want to pay attention.

Ren's entire existence is defined by being on the outside. The daughter of an English Reaper and a Japanese Shinigami, she resides in London and is bullied, disrespected, and ignored for her heritage -- something that, I'll admit, was really getting my back up because I thought her father, the obvious culprit for her dual heritage, had been let off the hook and all the hate and distrust was focused solely on his daughter. And well.. he is demoted for his transgressions but Ren still bears the brunt of it as he gets to, mostly, wash his hands of it all. I got to say, I'm hella tired of that particular narrative. Next time I want the kid to be welcomed and the parents to be ostracized please and thank you. Also, I hope more of this backstory is explained in book two as, currently, I'm not quite satisfied by how things stand.

But anyway, stuff happens and Ren is forced on the run and her brother, who has always loved her despite having been also tarred with some of the same brush as his sister, even though he is not biracial, flees to Japan with her. And basically this whole relationship, this whole bond? The best. They didn't always get on, they could never full understand each other, but they were still there for each other.. though this bond definitely does get tested along the way. Especially when Neven admits to feeling like a fish out of water in Japan and expresses those feelings to Ren, even though it was only a glimpse of what Ren had endured in London for centuries -- and I really loved that Baker explored this.

While so much of this story ends up being about Japanese mythology and legends, the author leans close to, if not outright, grimdarkness with some of the violence and demons they encounter. Maybe it's not quite grim but it is dark. Being that the whole premise is set around death and soul collecting, I like that this wasn't glossed over considering the target audience.

Also not glossed over is Ren's anger, which we see explode out of her a few times once she's away from London and is able to both articulate and let herself rage, about all the years of being told who she is, what she isn't, and how she's not accepted. Because unlike what she thought.. she is not immediately welcomed in Japan. She's seen, once again, as a foreigner. This disappointment felt so raw and real and I honestly have no words to describe it.

Where things sorta fell apart for me was near the end. I knew this wasn't a standalone (yay it's only a duology!) so maybe that explains why the big climax came upon us in a bit of a quick and dramatic fashion -- well, there's two, really. I loved the first, which I sorta saw coming (but one reveal was still a surprise) but it was what followed that.. I don't know. I really enjoyed where things ended, though, and I'm so keen to see how it all resolves -- or if it even does -- in book two.

If you're looking for a dark YA fantasy, set in the past, with a compelling setting, rich in atmosphere and setting, with a main character who isn't remotely the hero, though not quite a villain, but definitely grey in hue.. you should give this a go.

3.5 stars

** I received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher (thank you!) and this in no way influenced my review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Ashley.
780 reviews420 followers
September 22, 2021
Half British Reaper, Half Japanese Shinigami?

I'm dying, I really think i'm dying. HOW CAN I WAIT UNTIL FALL 2021 FOR THIS BOOK? 😭


i know i'm being a little dramatic but... a book about a mixed race Death Bringer/God/whatever just TAKE MY MONEY.
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