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Gensokai Kaigai #1

Sairō's Claw

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An action-adventure fantasy romp featuring sword lesbians, sea battles, and a grumpy wolf spirit.

Torako has done many things to protect the valley that she calls home, but she’s never looted a corpse before. So when the katana she steals off the still-cooling body of a bandit turns out to be possessed by a grumpy wolf kami, she can only assume it’s because she’s somehow angered the spirits. An impression that’s only reinforced when she returns home to find her wife abducted and her daughter in hiding. But angry spirits or no, Torako isn't about to let bandits run off with the love of her life, even if it means taking their 3 year old on a rescue mission.

In all Kaiyo's years as Captain of the Wind Serpent she has never once questioned her admiral’s orders. So when she receives the command to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen felons, she registers her objections, but does as she is bid. Yet, as the mission unfolds, Kaiyo finds herself questioning everything from her loyalties to her convictions. 

As Torako and Kaiyo’s fates cross like dueling blades, their persistence is matched only by their fury, until they uncover a series of truths they may never be ready to accept.

387 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 7, 2021

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About the author

Virginia McClain

12 books162 followers
Virginia McClain is an author who recently stopped daylighting as a Spanish teacher in Arizona and switched to writing full time in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When she's not writing she can often be found climbing to the top of large rocks, running on trails, backpacking, and generally engaging in any excuse to go play outside. Now that she has moved to the Great White North she will probably add snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ice skating to her list of outdoor adventures, but as it's still warm out she'll start with canoeing (something she hasn't done in years) and see how it goes from there. She lives with her husband and their furry, canine companion Artemis.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,562 reviews2,939 followers
June 14, 2021
* I was sent this for free by the author in exchange for an honest review *

I'm so glad that the author reached out to me for this review, as I was already excited for this book when I saw the cover and read the blurb. This story did not disappoint and I came away with lots of excitement for delving further into the world (I believe there's a prior series in the same world) and seeing what will happen next.

This is certainly inspired by ancient magics, moon gods and Kami spirits. There's a lot of fabulous magical moments, and magic clearly infuses some of the land and people who dwell in this part of it. We also see familiars/spirit animals who form bonds with characters, and healing magic which is very powerful.

There are an array of characters in this, some of whom are on opposite sides. We first have Kaiyo, a young woman who is heir to the admiral and who is a force to be reckoned with on the seas. She is determined and focused and adamant that she will prove herself worthy to take over from her father even though she's a lady and not a traditional one at that.
Tanaka is Kaiyo's second in command and he's her most trusted friend too. Together he helps to run the ship and he also has powers to heal.
Lyt is a slave who ends up working with Kaiyo and Tanaka and I really appreciated that xe was non-binary and it was just a fact of the story.
Next we have Raku, a scholar who is uncovering secrets about the Gensokai empire and yet she's a calm and quiet lady who lives with her wife and her daughter.
Torako is Raku's wife, aka Night Stalker. She's a fierce warrior who defends her territory with blood and yet she's a kind and loving wife and mother to Raku and their daughter Itachi.
Itachi is young, only a child, but she's super powerful in the spirit world and has a right future ahead. She's sensitive and wise beyond her years and I look forward to more of her.
Finally we have Sairō who is a wolf spirit. I won't say much about them as they're a bit of a mystery, but I really enjoyed their involvement in the tale.

Overall the story gets going right from the start with a naval battle and lots of action. We see the scenes okay out before we fully understand who is who and what they're working on, but as time unfolds you start to see all sides have their own reasons and purposes and knowing who to root for is a bit of a grey area.

The world itself is fun, and I enjoyed it a lot, but the characters shine centre-stage with their development on relationships constantly being built upon. I really loved the two wives, I also love the mother-daughter bonds, and generally all the characters brought something individual to the story.

In the end I really enjoyed this book and certainly want to see what will happen next as it feels like the tip of the iceberg. I'm intrigued and excited to follow these characters again, and certainly to see wider magic and lands too. 4.25*s from me!
Profile Image for P.L. Stuart.
Author 3 books412 followers
February 16, 2022
Author of eight novels, and several short stories, Virginia McClain is a seasoned novelist, with a great track record. Her novel "Blade's Edge", "Gensokai" Book One, was a Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Finalist (SPFBO) in 2019. A lot of fellow readers have lauded McClain's work as excellent. That reputation, and the absolutely glorious cover of "Sairō’s Claw", Gensokai Book Three (though it can be read as a standalone, rather than part of a series) sucked me right in, and I put the book down as a TBR-must. Suffice to say, I was glad I did. Now, onto the review, another #FebruarySheWrote review, where I exclusively read and review the works of authors who use the pronoun she/her!

"Sairō’s Claw" largely follows two main characters - Torako and Kaiyo - who are on opposite sides of a conflict that is centered around another character, named Raku. Torako and Kaiyo share a lot of similarities. Both are elite in terms of fighting skills. Both are fiercely loyal to what they believe in and care about, and both are somewhat exacting and brutal on the surface, with tenderness and compassion underneath. Both are willing to fight to the death, without ever giving quarter, to defend and protect those they feel merit such devotion. 

Torako, a former famous warrior,  is trying to live a quiet life, in a reclusive valley, housed in a cave with her loving wife Raku, and three-year-old daughter Itachi. Kaiyo, meanwhile, is a fearsome sea captain, devoted to her duty, and her admiral, who also happens to be her father. When the admiral dispatches Kaiyo on a mission to kidnap Raku, who is a scribe, for political purposes, Kaiyo questions the mission, but obeys the commands. To complicate the task, the admiral insists Kaiyo take fifteen hardened criminals along with her to accomplish the abduction. But, besides potential treachery on the part of the felons, even the tough and brilliant commander Kaiyo might meet her match in Torako, known as the "Night Stalker", so legendary is her reputation as a feared fighter, and the fabled guardian of her valley home. 

So, Torako will die to protect Raku, and Kaiyo is willing to die to take Raku away from Torako. Something has to give, and obviously, with two ferocious fighters like Torako and Kaiyo as opponents on a collision course with each other, blades will clash in the process, with potentially devastating results. But, unbeknownst to these two adversaries, there are secrets out there that further bind Torako and Kaiyo, even beyond Raku, and there will be revelations coming that shock them both to the core.

There was a lot to love about this book. Let's speak about the great worldbuilding first. The Gensokai realm - the setting for McClain's book - is heavily Japanese-inspired, and vividly depicted. McClain provides a glossary of terms at the onset of the book. Inside this glossary, some of the terms are actual Japanese words, while some are contrived to enhance  the story, to add a sense of authenticity and lushness to the worldbuilding. McClain was definitely successful in that regard. From the weapons, to the clothing, to the manner of speech, to the tea ceremonies, to the belief system, to the conventions and etiquette of Gensokai, McClain vividly paints a luxuriant picture of her world, that the reader can immerse themselves in. 

The magic was fantastic, and haunting: mysterious kamis (gods), possessed swords (one of my favourite magical tropes), manipulation of elemental magic to control nature, such as wind (another favourite), sea serpents, giant wolves, and more leaped off the pages of "Sairō’s Claw". There was also blood magic used to promote healing, another favourite element, which is met by extreme suspicion and mistrust by Kaiyo in particular.   

I have to give McCLain a lot of praise for her combat scenes. They were top-notch. The 2000 film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", set in In 19th-century Quing dynasty China, starring Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh is one of my favourite action movies. Somehow I could not help putting Ziyi and Yeoh in the place of Torako and Kaiyo in my head, when I closed my eyes and imagined these two incredible fighters taking on all comers, after reading every great action scene written by McClain, in "Sairō's Claw". The whirling katanas, the throwing knives, the blurring combat moves, fists, kicks, and blades coming at all angles - it was dizzying, chaotic, thrilling. 

It's all about the characters for me, and these were very intriguing. Torako and Kaiyo were the take-no-prisoners type, yet were not bloodthirsty for bloodthirstiness sake, and knew when not to do violence, when it was counter-productive to their aims. Both are rather austere, and it's only through how much they love their family that they are not as harsh as they seem on the exterior. They were sufficiently complex to keep me very engaged in their fate. The secondary characters like Tanaka, the eponymous wolf-spirit Sairō, Kitsu, and Lyt, who tended to express their thoughts, moods and emotions more readily than the two main players were nice additions to compliment Torako and Kaiyo. 

In terms of themes, I must also acknowledge the fantastic representation in the book re: LGBTQ2AA+, including use of multiple pronouns, non-binary characters, and love between all genders. Kudos to McClain here, for making diversity an organic part of the story. 

If you want fast-paced, this is your book. It takes all of five pages or so until the action takes off, and it only lets up in brief spells for the rest of the book. Though I prefer the slower-burn, there was certainly enough backstory for the characters, lore and culture, and political machinations and family drama to keep me entertained. Overall, this book was very well-put together.

The book ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger! I love this technique, and loved how it was done in "Sairō's Claw", though I know not every reader enjoys cliff-hangers. Yet I feel enough resolution overall has occurred prior that this type of ending only would accentuate interest in reading the next book, rather than leaving the reader feeling disappointed.

"Sairō's Claw" is very well-written, inventive, briskly-paced, full of mysticism, absolutely beautifully crafted fight scenes, intrigue, love, loyalty, Japanese-inspired worldbuilding, and conflicting motivations. 4.5 stars for this incredible book by a seasoned author who really knows what she's doing when it comes to writing, Virginia McClain. 
Profile Image for Rob Hayes.
Author 35 books1,433 followers
July 19, 2021
Somewhat reminiscent of Sword of Kaigen, Sairo's Claw is a book about motherhood, the lengths people will go to for those they love, elemental magic, and the lies of nations to their people. Also, a big spirit wolf!

It's a fun ride with fairly low global stakes, instead drawing the tension from high personal stakes. We get to ride along with both the heroes and the villains, and personally experience the blurred edges that define them.

Shortish with plenty of big action and stabbiness, it's a lot of fun and sets up a larger conflict I'm sure is to come.

Overall, a solid 4 stars and I look forward to book 2.
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,320 reviews143 followers
October 4, 2021
This can be read as part three of the Gensokai books, or as a stand alone. It takes part quite a bit after the first two books, and had it's own story arc, though there's some reoccurring characters.

I loved the strong female leads in this book, with women who know how to handle a katana as well as those who know how to handle a ship, a scroll or kiso (magic).

I enjoyed how inclusive it was in its society, where people might murder you, but are good with using your proper pronouns of choice! People get judged by their actions and talents, and not by who they love our what's between their legs, and I must say I really liked this bit of cultural setting! After all not everyone is as judgy about those things as the west is.

The mystery and action had me glued to the pages from start to end, and I was quite annoyed when I had to put it down in order to go to work.

At times the plot raced on a bit *too* quickly for me, and I'd have liked a bit more depth.
At other times I felt too much was taken in stride by the characters, so it wasn't a perfect read for me.

However it was a damn addictive story with a cast of characters I deeply cared for, so I'm more than happy to give 4* and read anything else McClain puts before my eyes!
Profile Image for Rowena Andrews.
Author 3 books66 followers
July 11, 2021
You know that you’re in for a great book when the dedication has you nodding and smiling. Sairō’s Claw is a book that had been on my radar for a while, particularly because it was mentioned with reference to warrior mums, sword lesbians, which immediately caught my attention and so I leapt at the chance to read it for the tour and I was not disappointed. Sairō’s Claw in general is an eye-catching book – the cover is striking, I love the combination of colours and the striking image, and I loved the little details throughout like the kunai for the breaks in the text, and the embellishments on the POV names. There’s also a map – which we all know I’m a sucker for. However, what stood out for me was the glossary at the front. I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read, trying to work out meanings only to discover the glossary at the end (I really should learn to look before I start… but just having it at the start was great).

Another thing that called to me about Sairō’s Claw – and all the Gensokai books (which have been on my TBR for far too long) is that they are Japanese-inspired. I don’t talk about it much on the blog, but I love anything related to Japan, so to read a book that is a love letter to that without falling into the stereotypes trap, was absolutely fantastic. The world-building for Sairō’s Claw was beautifully balanced throughout, immersive without detracting or distracting from the character-centred storyline. It builds on the Japanese-inspiration through the terminology – hence the glossary – although that is used sparingly and to great effect, to the culture and mannerisms, while also taking its own unique approach to create a richly imagined, multi-layered world which was the perfect setting for this story. A similar balance was struck with the magic system, which using energy manipulation (‘kisō’) of the elements – which is not a new concept, but here McClain has paired with it with kami, to create something different and memorable that again builds into that Japanese inspiration (I adored the magic system, especially because of the relation of Kami which is always something I love to see depicted).

However, where Sairō’s Claw really shines, and what lies at the very heart of this book is its characters. In McClain’s characters we see the same nuance and care from the world-building, but dialled up to eleven – and that is not just with the main protagonists, but across the board of secondary characters as well. Each and every character in this book, from the wonderfully grumpy titular wolf spirit, to the antagonist (who I’m not even sure you can really call an antagonist in the classic sense, because she is so much more, and her character and arc place her far more squarely as a protagonist despite standing against the other two), to the crew members are so well-realised and compelling, that it is impossible to imagine this world or book without them.

This is a story that is the sum of all its parts, but each part (character) is a whole.

I’m not even sure that I could choose a favourite, especially amongst our three main protagonists – Toroko, Raku and Kaiyo, as I loved them all for different reasons, although if forced I might lean towards the latter. Kaiyo – our antagonist/protagonist – was a wonderfully complex character, caught between duty and expectation, and trying to remain true to herself in the face of familial demands. I love that she doesn’t fall easily into the classic role of antagonist and that her role as Captain of the Wind Serpent and heir to her father, is not questioned. There is no expectation that her gender would limit her in any way. And really that is the tone for this world and book as a whole. The ‘representation’ is just part of the fabric of the world, which is just how it should be. There is no question about our female leads being in command, or trailblazing. There is no second thought about the wonderful relationship between Raku and Toroko, it’s their love, and their sense of family that stands out – not that they are lesbians (although ‘sword lesbians’ is always a term that makes me grin).

“Yes, I’m married to a brilliant scribe.” For a moment, Torako struggled to come up with words that could accurately convey Raku. “She’s fierce, brilliant, and much better with people than I am.”

And the way that non-binary characters and their pronouns are just accepted as a part of the characters in question, and the world is a whole, is something that I need to see more of.

This is how it should be, and there need to be more books like this.

This also bleeds through into one of the things that stood out for me most, and that was returning to the dedication and to what I’d heard about in regards to this book – and that was ‘warrior mums’. It is such a common feature of media that motherhood and warriorhood (is that even a word) are held as separate traits that can’t possibly cross paths. How, often is the mother killed? Or, loses all that part of herself to become a warrior? As though it was as simple as flicking a switch. There is none of that in Sairō’s Claw – and as with the rest of the representation – it’s unremarked upon, and yet it is sadly remarkable and certainly one of my favourite parts of this book.

Toroko is a mother.

She is also a warrior.

She is both at all times.

Itachi was a sweetheart, and so integral to Toroko and Rakus’ story and characters. It would be impossible to imagine them (or this story) without them, and thanks to the author we don’t have to, because McClain demonstrates in the same elegant, understated way as the rest of the representation is given to us – that mothers can be warriors, and warriors can be mothers.

She hoped that pointing out the presence of the small child on her back might keep Uso from some of the less savory topics that a smuggler might choose to raise, but she didn’t hold out much hope. She hadn’t met very many of Kitsu’s crew over the cycles, but the ones she had met had seemed to have a competition going to see which of them could upset her with bawdy or bloody tales. They had all been disappointed. Torako was not at all put off by such things, but that didn’t mean that she wanted Itachi to listen to them.

Give me more women heading into battle with their children at their side. Give me more warriors whose moral compass is their children. Sairō’s Claw is proof that not only does this work, but it also makes for fantastic, multi-faceted characters and an adventure that has completely different stakes and a heart that feels so much more believable.

Sairō’s Claw was such a refreshing read for so many reasons, and there was so much to love about this book. Firstly, it is perfect if you are looking for a wonderful adventure packed with action and magic, with a touch of whimsy and lightheartedness, without shying away from some more serious/darker elements. It’s also the book for anyone who wants a book that celebrates diversity without sticking it up on a podium, and who loves characters that live and breathe and jump off the page to drag you along on their adventure. I had so much fun with this book, and I just loved the characters, and I almost didn’t want it to end – although the ending was brilliant – and I’m glad that I still have the rest of the Gensokai books to dive into because I have not had my fill yet.
Profile Image for Inkslinger.
236 reviews41 followers
July 8, 2021
Sairo's Claw (A Gensokai Novel) by Virginia McClain

Finished copy provided by Virginia McClain via Storytellers On Tour. All opinions are mine and freely given.

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07-08: 'Sairō’s Claw (A Gensokai Novel)' by Virginia McClain is a multiple narrative tale following a split storyline that features sword-wielding lesbians, mind-blowing sea battles, and a grumpy wolf spirit trapped in a sword. The representations are pretty diverse, including a gender neutral blood mage and what just might be a bit of a grey-ace ship captain (which I LOVE).

The action-adventure adult fantasy focuses largely on the converging tales of Torako and Kaiyo, encompassing those close to them on each side of the conflict.

Torako is a walking legend.. bordering on myth. She stalks the valley she calls home, dispatching would-be dangers and protecting the people who share the land. When she runs across a group of bandits who attack her and threaten her daughter, they too join the number she has defeated.. but the katana she loots off one of the corpses turns out to be possessed by a surly wolf kami.

Upon returning home from a confrontation, she finds her wife, Raku.. has been abducted and their daughter, Itachi hiding tearfully nearby. Certain she's somehow angered the spirits, she's nonetheless determined to save the love of her life. With no one to care for the child, Torako launches her campaign carrying their daughter along with her.

Kaiyo is subject to plenty of rumors of her own. As Captain of the Wind Serpent and heir to rule the land she grew up in, she's above all.. someone who follows her admirals orders. She may be rebellious at home where her mother's idea of traditions are concerned, but she's long ago carved out her place in the Kaigun military. Still, when she receives a missive commanding her to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen of the worst criminals the dungeons hold, she makes her objections known.. but again, follows orders.

This story starts out like still waters before a storm, but that peace is brief. There's a short window of time within which to get to know all the major characters a bit, and then the group is drawn inexorably toward one another. You know there's going to be a serious collision when it happens and you're not left waiting long to see it.

McClain does a beautiful job painting the textures of her characters with detailed strokes. There's incredible tenderness in some and a cool, calculating method to others. Each of the supporting characters has a fleshed out identity, which helped me to connect with them easily and made them distinctively memorable. I definitely became quickly invested with people on both sides of the conflict.

Her action sequences are visually exciting, without being overstimulating to the point you don't even know what's happening. At times, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat watching a scene play out, hoping for certain things to occur.. or in some cases, hoping they wouldn't.

Inspired closely by feudal Japan, the world-building is elegant and deeply layered. She even includes a glossary of words either taken directly from the influence or created from it and their translated meanings, though there are also a handful of words spread throughout the book that are more common usage and not specifically defined.

Honestly, I loved this book so much I didn't even want to put it down. The prose is comfortably eloquent, but not flowery. As with everything, McClain seems to walk that fine line down the middle with ease.. giving us enough to be immersive and never throwing anything at us that will kick us out of the story and leave us head-scratching. I'm eager to see where she goes from here and highly recommend giving this a chance if you like multi-cultural adult fantasy.

Profile Image for Jenna Rideout.
661 reviews55 followers
July 12, 2021
I was granted complimentary access to Sairō's Claw as part of my participation in a blog tour for this title with Storytellers on Tour. Thank you to all involved in affording me this opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honset.

I would like to start off by saying YES!!! to all of the awesome Japanese cultural references! As someone who grew up in a host family for a Japanese school district's exchange program in Canada, this was both a fresh, new adventure and also so nostalgic to all of the stories I eagerly sat and listened to a bunch of teenagers tell me on random school nights in elementary school. I was also just absolutely grinning to find that one of the main characters is named Kaiyo, as one of my favourite students who passed through our home was also a Kaiyo.

This is an epic novel, both in length (nearly 500 pages) and in the sheer scope of the story. It's fast-paced and very detailed. This is a world builder's dream, it has plot in spades, and the characters are very well-rounded and real. The way this book ended up landing in my busy review schedule was a bit intimidating given its length, but it was such an interesting read that I didn't mind staying up late to get it done.

At times I let my screen reader help me out, but it really struggled with the names so alas it was a bit of a trade-off. (Kaiyo, for example, somehow became Ko. Don't ask, I don't know.) Anybody else who routinely lets screenreaders help out and has become accustomed to the robo voice that sometimes pronounces things a little off is probably going to be uncomfortably reminded that it is indeed a robo voice that pronounces things wrong unless you've got one that can read in English but pronounce Japanese words. This is by no means the fault of the author or book, again I love the cultural injection and obviously, a proper human audiobook narrator would be coached on pronunciations if necessary, I only mention this for the benefit of fellow screenreader enthusiasts who may be about to embark on this particular adventure.

I both see that this book is listed as the first in a series and people saying that it stands on its own well and also see people referring to other books by this author set in the same world. This is my first encounter with Virginia McClain's work, so I can't comment on whether or not this book ties into previous books, but I can say it does indeed read just fine on its own. I didn't feel like there was anything left off the page that was necessary to understand the plot or how this world works. I'm definitely curious about this author's other books and would certainly not be opposed to continuing to review this series.

I also wanted to mention before I close off that there's a lot of great, positive LGBTQIA+ representation in its book, and I really appreciate it.

If you like big books (and you cannot lie) and stories steeped in folklore, check out Sairō's Claw!
Profile Image for Nimalee  Ravi.
371 reviews13 followers
July 11, 2021
The cover of the book is absolutely stunning and when I read the blurb I couldn't wait to read this book. It did not disappoint me at all. This is the first book in the Gensokai series and I absolutely loved it.

This book has strong female leads, women with swords, LGBTQ+, a wolf and full of action. Everything you need in a fantasy book.

The world building is absolutely brilliant and written so beautifully. For me it ticked all the fantasy elements. Really loved the writing style and the glossy of terms at the beginning is so helpful.

This is a must read and definite read if you are a fantasy addict. I'm looking forward to going back and reading 'Blade's Edge' and 'Traitor's Hope'. I can not wait to read the next installment in this series.
Profile Image for Brinley.
1,037 reviews70 followers
July 6, 2021
I really enjoyed this one! I'll admit that I was a bit worried when I saw it was the third book in a universe, but I felt like I hung along pretty well once I got the world down.

Speaking of the world, I absolutely loved it. Full of kami, raiders, wolf spirits, and sea serpents, it combined so many of my favorite fantasy elements. Something new was always being added, which was a bit hard to grasp at the beginning, but was great once I understood it.

I also really loved the character cast. Kaiyo was definitely my favorite. I loved her subtle friends-to-lovers with Tanaka, and her utter ruthlessness. Watching her make threats was amazing, especially when it was out of loyalty. I didn't love Raku as much, I wish she had been more of a side character, but that was a minor complaint.

I think my one complaint for this has to be the lack of pirates. Which is totally on me. For some reason, I read the synopsis and thought this would spend a lot more time on the high seas doing pirate stuff. So, of course, I was a bit disappointed when there were no pirates.

I really enjoyed this one, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series! I can't wait to see what else faces our characters, and what the new developments lead to.

Thanks to Storytellers on Tour for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for S. Bavey.
Author 5 books43 followers
July 11, 2021
Sairō’s Claw is the first of Virginia McClain’s books that I have read, and also the first fantasy I have read which was set mostly at sea. I have to say it will not be the last I read of either of those! Set in a society inspired by Japanese history and culture, I was grateful at times for the glossary at the beginning of the book. However once I got used to the Japanese terminology interspersed within the text and its unusual and intriguing style, I really loved this book, and could not put it down. The language is just as essential in helping to build this world, rich in cultural formality and ancient customs, such as the tea ceremony, as are the vibrant descriptions of the locations themselves. The worldbuilding is constantly in the background of the action of the story, but it is still very present, and the result is a vivid depiction of a world you can easily visualize without realizing it has been described to you.

The characters in this novel are detailed and nuanced, full of contradictions, with levels of believable emotion and motivation. Noone is a stereotype. I loved Kaiyo, the no-nonsense ship’s captain and daughter of Admiral Saito, who is expected by her mother to behave and dress in a way which is anathema to her authentic self. She is respectful of her parents and occasionally complies, in order to avoid the wrath of her mother, but when expected to marry in order to mend her tarnished reputation, Kaiyo is horrified. She is determined not to go along with such a plan, until persuaded by her mother’s pick for her, her first mate, Tanaka, that it could simply be an arrangement of convenience.

Kaiyo is sent by her father on a dangerous mission to kidnap a scribe and ex-spy, Raku, with the help of fifteen criminals of the worst type. She finds it a daunting task but her upbringing and respect for her father would not allow her to refuse such a task, despite her instincts telling her she should not undertake such a mission.

I also loved Torako, a living legend and mythic warrior, known as the Nightstalker in her valley, who is nonetheless a fiercely protective mother to her daughter, Itachi. The relationship between Torako and Itachi is heartwarming. She is disturbed that her daughter had to watch her kill the bandits in the forest, but would do anything to keep Itachi safe:

“Itachi was a compass for Torako’s heart. Wherever she went, Torako pointed and followed.”

Little did Torako know that her wife, Raku is the scribe being hunted by the bandits, so it was not only Itachi she was keeping safe with her protective actions in killing the bandits. In searching their bodies for clues as to their identities, Torako discovers a katana sword with an ornate handle which had puzzled Kaiyo earlier, on the ship:

“Her thumb ran over the small amber jewels that glowed together in the afternoon sun. They were set into the face of a silver wolf, its features placid but stern, its fur looking almost real enough to move in the breeze that ruffled the trees around her. Before she could stop her hands, or even question what they were doing, she had removed the saya from the man’s belt, cleaned the blade on his trousers, sheathed it, and hung it from her own belt.”

The katana contains the wolf spirit, Sairō, who has been trapped within it for a thousand years. Sairō is able to manipulate people via the sword and makes their way to Torako, whose fierce spirit is able to survive a particular rite needed to make Sairō whole again and bind her to a human. The rite enables Sairō to take her proper form of an enormous talking wolf. Meanwhile the bandits have reached the cave where Raku and Itachi are sleeping and the stakes are raised.

Torako’s relationship with the lovable rogue, Kitsu, is endearing and I enjoyed their banter. Although she has known him forever and he is the father of her child, she is never quite sure if she can trust him and he knows exactly how to ignite her fury. I looked forward to the chapters where they were on the page together.

Kaiyo is hellbent on successfully completing her mission to deliver Raku to the Admiral and Torako is equally determined to rescue her imperiled wife and wreak revenge on her captor … which of these strong-willed women will prevail? When their story arcs meet up it’s explosive to say the least!

I found the fearsome powers of the various mages in the story intriguing, some, such as the wind or water mages, are able to manipulate one of the elements, while others, blood mages, are able to manipulate blood inside a person to initiate healing. Many different Kami or spirits are also present in the story, which aid with the overall magical, mystical feel of Sairō’s Claw.

To recap, some highlights:

Sailors who can manipulate the wind to travel faster.

Healers who can manipulate water or blood inside you to initiate healing.

A protective mother’s dangerous encounter in the woods with deadly criminals.

A breakneck chase on an enormous Wolf, chasing horseback riders.

A charming smuggler with sea serpents answering his beck and call.

Sairō’s Claw is a fabulously original story full of exciting action and genuine emotion and I wolfed it down (sorry- couldn’t resist that!!). I would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different!
Profile Image for Laura.
1,074 reviews27 followers
September 14, 2021
"That's not a normal katana."
"No shit."
"You know it's possessed?"
"Of course I do. It's Sairō-san who possesses it. Although I'm not sure Id call it possession, more like they've been cursed into it."

When Torako finds herself saddled with a katana she had somehow stolen off the still-cooling body of a bandit, imagine her surprise when said katana turns out to be possessed by a grumpy wolf kami. Of course Torako assumes she must have somehow angered the spirits to end up bonded to the thing. Especially when, that very same day, her wife is abducted and her three year old daughter forced into hiding.

But angry spirits or no, Torako isn't about to let bandits run off with the love of her life, even if it means taking their 3 year old on a rescue mission. Alongside a grumpy wolf kami of course.

A mother. A warrior. A protector. They are one and she is all.
Torako had my heart from the very start. And the same can be said for little Itachi and their grumpy wolf spirit.

It took me a while to settle into the tale, due to the large number of oriental terms and names I had a bit of a tough time to remember, but a quarter into it I was invested and half way through it, I was absolutely hooked.

True to the blurb, this book delivers a fabulous action-adventure fantasy romp featuring badass sword lesbians, thrilling sea battles, alongside a really cool 'grumpy wolf spirit'. And yet, it is much more. It is a tale of determination and courage, of pointy truths and sharp edged spirits and above all, of fierce love. The love of friend and that of a wife, the love of a companion and, perhaps most of all, that of a mother.

"Many things that are not understood are abhorred."

Beautifully and downright elegantly written, Sairō's Claw is a rich and layered tale in which no villain is truly black, while truth and justice are a matter of perspective. The characters are fully fleshed masterfully drawn individuals that practically leap from the page, while the setting is one of the most richly imagined I have encountered.
A skilful mix of strength and subtlety - that's how I'd sum up this tale as well as it's characters as a whole.

The Japanese influenced culture and characteristics are fascinating and I simply adored the magic system. Particularly the blood magic and the healing. The food for thought and evocative emotions are nicely balanced by sass and fun banter in such a way that both enhance the other.
And one more thing, perhaps just as important - this book practically celebrates diversity and yet, somehow, manages to not make the tale evolve around it.

This book is a must read for any fantasy fan, especially those with a penchant for oriental inspired character driven tales.
It's a real treat people. Give it a try.
Profile Image for Ollie Bowdoin.
162 reviews40 followers
July 13, 2021

My book choices of late have been a bit on the strange and off the beaten path variety of late and this book has provided a healthy reminder of why I love that Grand scope True fantasy brings. I’ve also never read anything that included the stylish and swift bladed samurai action and I was hooked.

I was a little thrown off initially as I thought things would be going back and forth between two separate storyline, but once I grasped the import of the events at the beginning, followed by the continued story of one hell of a sea captain, I was engaged in the building up of the characters within the story, or, the story around the main characters.

Kaiyo is the experienced Captain of a ship that is crewed by what is a very loyal crew, who also have amongst themselves, individuals who have abilities to control the wind, ocean, and healing, which we get an awesome example of early on. The Captain is also the daughter of some very powerful people in the realm and she is soon called on to undertake a very secretive mission that creates a ton of anticipation as well as the beginning of the bigger storyline (don’t forget about the mysterious ship from the beginning though) the was a joy to read and uncover.

This is also the first taste of the authors work I’ve had the privilege to read, and the quality of action, character, story, suspense, magic, mystery..all the little things that make up a perfect book are here. This is an author I would not be surprised by, in the least, to see at my local bookstore, with the “recommended by ian” handwritten store recommendation flashcard in front of it.

To be placed in the moment is at times hard to do in my daily life, with all the worries, stress, distractions and fears to twist and pull my focus and train of thought that it’s notable when I find myself “in the zone” while reading. There is one character I loved for many reasons, love their child one of them, but during her moments of effortless self defense, she is dealing out death as a defensive reaction that is so graceful, powerfull, and still full of moment by moment clear thought that I felt like I was a part of scene and experiencing that clearness of thought for myself, instead of just reading it.

For all these reasons, and many more, including the highly imaginitive heights this book took me, I would say it would be a good read for someone with almost any reading preference and I look forward to following the authors future and previous works.
Profile Image for Sonja.
45 reviews
June 7, 2021
When I saw that this story included a diverse cast of characters, I jumped on it right away and I was not disappointed. The fact that not only was the cast as diverse as I’d hoped but that the diversity was never questioned or felt forced, really helped me fall in love with this story. Finding characters that identify similarly to how I do, and never seeing their identities questioned or made to feel awkward with others was incredible. Virginia McClain did a fantastic job putting together the cast for this story.

The plot itself was fun to follow as well. Getting to unravel multiple mysteries at once was a bit challenging at first, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it. I especially loved getting to view these plotlines from multiple POVs and getting to see exactly where different characters were coming from.

Even though this story is the third installment in a series, it works great as a standalone. I’m sure there’s a lot of overlap with the other novels it follows, and I’m excited to read through them as well. I received a free copy of this story from Hidden Gems and am choosing to leave an honest review of it.
Profile Image for J.B..
Author 17 books46 followers
July 2, 2021
I've not really read anything like this. The reasons are numerous, each one more unique than the next.

It isn't a perfect book, perhaps a bit wordy for my liking, but it's pretty darn good. Every character has meaning, a purpose. The world is nicely developed, though I would have liked more. Not a criticism, as there is only so much you can give as writer in what is essentially one long chase scene. Considering that, what the author managed to provide was fun and pretty well realized.

I was invested, intrigued, then addicted... in that order. It got to a point where I couldn't put the book down. I even bought the paperback even though I had the kindle copy, and I seldom do that.

Favorite character:
Lyt - Xe needs xer own book. Like, right now.

Least favorite character:
None, they are all quite good.

Things I liked about the story:
Queer rep done right. Excellent fight scenes. The emotion was done just right, in that they weren't too sappy or overblown. I really appreciated those scenes as a writer, because they taught me a lot.

Things I didn't like about the story:
A bit wordy, made it tough to find my rhythm to start. But once I got a hang of the style, it was smooth sailing from there. Yes, pun intended. That's really it, honestly. The dialogue was solid, the emotion too. The fight scenes could be perfectly visualized in my head. It was a heck of a ride.

I've not read a chase-story (it's what I refer to stories with this set-up) this good since Robert McCammon's, MINE. Which I also gave five stars to.

I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for PS Livingstone.
3 reviews2 followers
May 14, 2021
I received an ARC of this book and I'm very glad, so much so I'll be buying my own copy as well (indie authors need to eat).
Sairo's Claw is a fascinating read, based on Japanese culture with a tonne of unique worldbuilding woven in. Virginia provides a glossary (in case you need it), but I loved the way the vocabulary fell naturally within the story, never feeling forced but rather a method of engrossing you within the world.
The book follows various characters (Roku, Kaiyo, Torako, etc.), switching between their POVs as necessary. Each character has their own clear voice and different ways of viewing the circumstances they find themselves in. Not all of them are likeable all of the time, but this made them more real and relatable for me. Despite their numerous skills and special abilities, they're flawed and wonderfully believable, making it impossible to decide who you're rooting for when they're pitted against each other.
Another big plus for this book is how representative and diverse it is, displaying lesbian relationships and using gender neutral pronouns seemlessly. Virginia never makes a big deal of these issues, rather incoporates them into the story in a way I'd like to see reflected in our own society.
There's a lot going on in Sairo's Claw and quite a few mysteries to unravel, keeping the reader as interested in the plot as the characters themselves. While there are some big revelations, there's plenty more that goes unsaid, leaving room for thought and future books (I hope).
Although this is Book 3 in the Chronicles of Gensokai, it works as a standalone; however, there is overlap between this and the previous books. You don't need to have read the others to enjoy it (which I'm confident you will), but read them anyway.
Profile Image for A.M. Justice.
Author 15 books166 followers
June 22, 2021
4.5/5 stars

The ultimate sign of a good book is one that keeps you up late and which has you anxious to get back to it when you can't read it. I'm pleased to say that was the case here. As in McClain's other Gensokai books, the protagonists are all deeply humane individuals fighting to make their world better. What I loved about this book is that the protagonists are on different sides of a conflict. Kaiyo, a naval captain, will do anything to protect her people, even if it means teaming up with a Suicide Squad–like band of outlaws to abduct a scholar who knows too many secrets. Raku, the scholar, will likewise do whatever she must to escape and reuinte with her beloved Torako and their daughter Itachi. Meanwhile, Torako, a mother with superhuman fighting skills, is literally a force of nature. Throw in a wolf spirit and a magic sword, and I'm sold.

The all-female cast of MCs is easy to root for through harrowing sea battles and chase sequences. The revelations at the end are both satisfying and tantalizing, and I can't wait to see where the series goes next.
Profile Image for Maza Booktuber.
28 reviews7 followers
July 3, 2021
Incredible ending leaving me wanting more! I know that this is part of a bigger world and now I want to read the rest! I truly enjoyed it after I got an idea of where I was and who everyone was. At first it does feel like you get dropped in a new world but then the author does a great job of not letting you sink and smooths everything out for you! I truly enjoyed all the characters I’ve recently read more stories of women being strong bad ass warriors and this hit the spot! You only get women POV’s and that is more than fine with me! One of the things that I think the author did a great job with was the awkward flirting scenes between two characters. Idk why but I really enjoyed that and I caught myself laughing a lot during this book its such a chill and vivid experience and you will be left wanting more! I can’t wait for Eredi’s Gambit! But I think I will go back and read the first two books in this world! Also the freshness of getting away from the typical European fantasy tropes is wonderful! I love the culture and how it jumps out of the page!
Profile Image for Tyra Leann.
237 reviews14 followers
August 14, 2021
3.5 stars. While I fell in love with the characters, there were some things about this book I couldn’t overlook.

The beginning of the book took awhile to find its footing. The narrative was choppy and the jargon was overused and underexplained, despite the book starting with a glossary of terms I was quickly overwhelmed.

And while the characters are great, they all felt too similar in my opinion. That being said, fantasy is always welcoming of a strong independent female character, so that at least, was refreshing. The representation in this book was also stellar, and exactly how representation should be done in my opinion. I’ve seen other books dwell on the pronouns a character uses or their sexual orientation too much to be a realistic part of the story, but not so in Sairo’s Claw. It was there and it was done really well.

This book didn’t hit home for me, but that does not mean I will not be continuing to read more by this author. I already have Blade’s Edge ready to go and I’m eager to read more.
Profile Image for Patti.
1,505 reviews13 followers
July 14, 2021
A very original standout tale that embraces many forms of diversity. The tale alone is solid. The characters spring to life, the threats make you hold your breath. Each and every facet speaks of strength in the face of anything and everything. The leads are strong and exhibit wonderful role model qualities. The asian influence adds to the mystical allure. A very entertaining read.
940 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2021
Very good

This is a story you don't want to put down. It is imaginative and very well written. It is one of those stories where you can't wait to find out what happens but, also, don't want it to end,
Profile Image for Ariana.
43 reviews6 followers
May 5, 2021
Thank you so much to the author for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sairō’s Claw is unlike any other book I’ve read before. Firstly, it’s based on Japanese culture, and I had never read or watched anything with that influence before, so I was fascinated. It took me a while to get used to the Japanese-influenced vocabulary that is so easily interspersed within the narrative, and which has a few more unfamiliar words than most second-world fantasy stories might, but the author very helpfully provided a glossary and it didn’t take me too long to become familiar with everything, in any case. This book is also the third in the Chronicles of Gensokai series, and can be read as a standalone but is set in the same world as the others so there is some overlap. I haven’t read books one and two yet, but after this I definitely will.

The story is told through various points of view:

- Kaiyo, the captain of the Wind Serpent, who is set to inherit her father’s role as Admiral, if only she can avoid the influence of her mother, who is trying to maintain her social standing. She is sent on a mission by her father to kidnap a scribe who has found dangerous information.
- Raku, a scribe who lives in a remote valley with her warrior wife and their three-year-old daughter (or three-cycles-old, as this world keeps track of years). She is doing research on ancient scrolls and discovers a great secret that would impact the entire nation, leading to her kidnapping.
- Torako, Raku’s warrior wife, who patrols the valley they live in to keep themselves and other small, unprotected villages safe.
- Itachi, Raku and Torako’s daughter. She has very strong powers for being only three, and she is being trained by her grandmother and a tree spirit to use them before her mother gets kidnapped and she goes along the journey to rescue her.

As well as these point of view characters, there are a few other prominent ones:

- Tanaka, Kaiyo’s second in command, who is a powerful healer and (small spoiler) is chosen by Kaiyo’s mother to be her husband to stifle talk of the two of them having an inappropriate relationship.
- Sairō, a great wolf spirit trapped for many years inside of a blue katana, and freed by Torako bringing the weapon close to Sairō’s sacred place. After that, they are free to roam, but are still tied to the bearer of the sword. They are very grumpy, but incredibly loving and very quickly become a part of Torako’s little family.
- Lyt, one of the prisoners taken by Kaiyo to kidnap Raku. Xe is a gender non-conforming person with blood magic powers, and is definitely an intriguing character, with a mysterious amount of knowledge.
- Kitsu, one of Torako’s old lovers, he is a charming smuggler who helps her track down her kidnapped wife.

McClain’s character work is brilliant. Every voice is distinct, and even when I was still trying to keep all the names straight in my head (always a fun part of reading a new fantasy) I was very quickly able to tell who was speaking just by their tone and choice of words. It’s sometimes hard to create these clear distinctions when writing multiple characters, but this was certainly not an issue in Sairō’s Claw. I also liked all of the characters, and was rooting for each of them in different ways. It’s quite interesting what McClain has done here by giving both sides of the conflict a perspective, and especially because she focuses on Kaiyo’s narrative in the first half of the story, she is sympathetic to the reader before she commits some questionable acts when attacking and taking Raku from her home. I really enjoyed her chapters, and especially loved her relationship with Tanaka, her second and then her husband as arranged by her parents. Friends-to-lovers with the twist of arranged marriage wasn’t something I realised I needed as badly as I did when I read this. Superbly executed!

And then you’ve got the more developed and solid relationship between Raku and Torako, and their love for their daughter. Even though the two women are not in many scenes together for this book, it is clear how much they care about each other, and I found that part was written realistically without it becoming too repetitive, which can sometimes happen. I also absolutely love the dynamic of tiny, seemingly-defenceless scribe woman married to a tall, muscly warrior with such a reputation that she gets called Night Stalker. Quality content! It was also so cool to see the dynamics between mothers and daughter, especially during the parts of the story in which Torako is rushing in anger towards the people who kidnapped her wife, but still has to make sure her young child is taken care of. There is no convenient way to leave Itachi out of the quest, and so her mother works around it, as real mothers do in real life situations.

The world of Gensokai is also brilliant, and I’m very keen to know more about it. Sairō’s Claw is set after the country has changed rulers, going from an oppressive ruling faction to a more open Council and I’ll be reading Blade’s Edge (book one) very soon to find out more. But overall it just felt so real, I kept forgetting I was reading a made-up story in a made-up world and felt like I was really there.

There are many other things I could talk about, but then this review might become a little long, so I’ll just say this has quickly become a new favourite read of mine, and I eagerly await the next book, because I will be thinking about that cliffhanger ending for months! I definitely recommend all fantasy lovers give this series a go, because Sairō’s Claw is beautifully written, incredibly engaging, with characters you’ll want to follow through anything and fast-paced action scenes. Also, there’s a giant wolf spirit, so what else do you really need?
Profile Image for Traveling Cloak.
282 reviews40 followers
May 26, 2021

Sairo’s Claw is the third installment in Virginia McClain’s Gensokai series, though each book is a standalone set in the same universe. I have not read the first two, but this book is adventurous and fun, with interesting storylines and complex, nuanced characters.

It is easy to recognize why Sairo’s Claw is a character-driven novel: McClain writes characters so well. I probably should not make such big generalizations, seeing as how this is the first book I have read from this author, but they are so deep and colorful – so full of life – that it is hard to imagine a book where McClain’s characters were not super compelling. I do not often call characters “compelling”, usually saving that qualifier for plot constructs. But, it is a fitting description for the character set of Sairo’s Claw. Torako, Raku, and Kaiyo are the main protagonists (it would be easy to call Kaiyo an antagonist, and maybe by strict definition she is, but not for me as I look at her side of things) of the story, each with their own narrative arc. Torako and Raku’s love for family is only matched by Kaiyo’s sense of duty. Each character’s journey is really emotional and burdensome, yet they push on out of a sense of love and loyalty. That is what makes it so compelling, the fact that both main characters on each side of the conflict are easy to connect with. Of course, Sairo (the aforementioned “grumpy wolf spirit”) is another character who has a big effect on the story, too. They were interesting and brought some earnestness to the story, which I think balanced things out well. Of course, there were other characters that fill important roles: Itachi, who is Torako and Raku’s daughter and is someone who helps the couple stay grounded; Kitsu, who is a mysterious convict that assists Kaiyo with her mission; and Tanaka, Kaiyo’s loyal first mate who manages to get tangled up in her family’s affairs. Every one of these characters brings some level of intrigue to the story, and I cannot say enough about them.

It is really clear that McClain put a lot of thought into representation, as well. First of all, there are so many female characters in commanding positions, making decisions, and unapologetically leading the way. The best part about it is that the author’s writing is so good as to build a world where this is not abnormal, so normalizing women in positions of power. There are people with non-binary pronouns, as well. One character identifies as “they/them” and another indentifies “xe/xir”, and, again, it is not something that is brought up as atypical in this world. And, as the synopsis mentions, “sword lesbians”, which I think is just lesbians with swords, unless I am missing something in that phrase. I love the f/f representation; in fact, I enjoyed the fact that the character set was so diverse. It is another level of depth to an already-complex cast.

I do want to mention the story itself. First of all, I like the fact that it is Japanese-inspired. I enjoy Japanese culture, so that is a quick way to draw me in. It appears as though the author tried to be respectful of the culture, as well, which I can appreciate. As for the narrative itself, it is split into 3 (or maybe 2.5, depending on how you characterize Torako, as she is often with another MC), with each one being an adventure. There are sword fights and sea battles, clashes with animals, magic, and some family drama. The story spans the map, as well, with McClain giving the characters (and readers), a view of different types of landscapes. This is a tried and true way to keep my interest as a reader, not only with diversity of characters but with varying topography. Each type of terrain comes with its own fascinating aspects that add to the drama.

The last third of the book gets a little chaotic, as storylines come together and plans start to unravel. This part was somewhat hot and cold for me, as I enjoy a little mayhem in my fantasy. I did like how things came together, though certain parts felt kind of forced at times and a little random. I liked the ending, though.

Overall, I was really happy with having read this book. Sairo’s Claw is an adventurous, whimsical journey full of captivating, charming characters that captured my attention and held it until the end. I am excited to pick up the first two books in the Gensokai series and read more from this universe.
Profile Image for Shahnaz Radjy.
171 reviews9 followers
May 20, 2021
Although I picked up this book unsure of what to expect, the characters, narrative, and world pulled me in, and I regretted reaching the end. As a recent first time mother, I love how motherhood is represented, and goes hand in hand with badassery. The way most characters defy stereotypes and have a mind of their own despite rank and society spoke to me and will hopefully inspire generations of readers to take a similar approach to life.

The story builds quickly and maintains an engrossing, relentless tempo. The imagery is rich without detracting from the narrative, and the multi-POV felt seamless.

As a significant bonus, the diversity and messages around questioning authority and tradition, acceptance, emotional intelligence, and unusual family compositions are elements I wish more fantasy novels integrated into their very fabric.

Can't wait for what comes next!
307 reviews7 followers
June 24, 2021
This book can be read as a stand alone, but it is part of a intricately written world and may best be savored by reading the earlier books set in the same universe. The stories of Gensokai are engaging, well-written, and wonderfully character driven.

Sometimes 'representation' in a work is seen as a checklist and not as part and parcel of a world. Author McClain does not do that. Instead, the diversity here is not surprising in the world or really pointed out. It just is. Various pronouns, strong female leads, lgbt+ characters, polyamory and more are just part of the world scene.

The plotlines and mysteries get to be viewed from characters' views so readers get more insight into different characters and their ideas on situations. I really enjoyed this Japanese inspired world and look forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for David Green.
Author 18 books205 followers
May 17, 2021
Diverse and inclusive, with terrific world-building and singular characters making up an exciting ensemble cast, Sairo's Claw also tells a bloody wonderful story.

All the themes, character details, narrative and cultures are treated with care and skill. The pace is quick but that doesn't make McClain's world any less deep; you get the impression there's so much beneath the surface, and so many more stories to tell, and characters to meet.

There are other books set in the universe, but this works well as a standalone and, crucially, entices you to read more.
23 reviews4 followers
May 14, 2021
I caught mention of this at this years QuaranCon and thought it sounded interesting.

It was!

Sent in a fictional world seeped in Japanese culture (but not Japan), Sairo's Claw is essentially the story of kickass women with terrific world-building.

This the third in the series, but works as a standalone. I plan to read the previous two entries from the strength of this novel.
Profile Image for Jonathan Pembroke.
Author 7 books44 followers
September 25, 2022
This was me, not the book. After reading the previous Gensokai volumes, I was invested in the protagonists but this series shifts to follow different folks and I just wasn't connecting with them as well. Going to shelve for now, may revisit later.
Profile Image for Raul Reads.
81 reviews9 followers
April 29, 2021
This book was so much fun. I'm a sucker for a good adventure story. Also, the queer representation was icing on the cake. Packed with humor, action and a wolf spirit possessed Katana. Dare I say this was my favorite book of the month?
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