Year of the Demon blends historical fiction with a contemporary setting. Mariko, nicknamed Frodo by her boss Lieutenant Sakaibara because of her short stature, has been teamed up with a new partner in Detective Watanabe aka Han Solo. While dealing with the fact that the Kamaguchi-gumi has put out a death contract for Mariko, she and Han are also forced into dealing with a group known as the Wind and a Devil's mask that seems to make the bearer go a bit insane with evil intentions including the desire to find and hold Mariko's sword while fundamentally changing people's lives with terrorism.
More than half of Year of the Demon, however, is a transition back to the years 1533, and 1588. If you have read Daughter of the Sword, you will be familiar with 16 year old Daigoro Okuma and the fact that he carries the sword known as Glorious Victory Unsought. You will also be aware that Mariko is the current holder of said sword. Bein apparently has decided that readers need to know more about the sword as well as the Demon Mask that makes its appearance in both the past and the present. The Mask has apparently evolved over the years to the point where it hypnotizes the wearer into doing murderous things.
I will say that I really like the determination of Daigoro. He's the leader of his clan, and in this installment, he forges a union that ends with him being married while holding off challengers who want nothing more than to see him dead and his sword in another person's hands. Daigoro also the bears the brunt of anger from those who find themselves with the Devil's mask. Apparently the mask craves attention and to be united with the sword.
In yet another universe, a 13 year old named Kaida is introduced. I wasn't exactly sure what the point of Kaida's introduction to this story or world was. I guess it basically was a means to show the power that the mask has over individuals and that the mask can find the sword any where in time. Unfortunately, Kaida's story took up space and time that could have been spent with Mariko and Han and their race to save Tokyo.
While Year of the Demon is a fitting sequel to Daughter of the Sword, I would have preferred the story focused more on Mariko and her partner Han, than in the past with Daigoro and Kaida. I am hoping that with a third novel, Mariko will be the focus of the story as well as her continued fight with the group known as the Wind who are the current holders of the mask. Unfortunately, Daigoro's fight is still in full swing, and therefore I am sure that Bein will want to wrap up his story as well.
There was one major inconsistency in this book that was so glaring, I couldn't help but to not comment on it. Book 4 says it is set in 1484 and the character is Kaida, yet Book 8 with the same character, says it's 1533. Too bad this wasn't caught sooner by the editors. Perhaps I received an early copy of the book and this was caught. Guess I will never know.
Author - Steve Bein
Title - Year of the Demon (Fated Blades # 2)
Publisher - ROC Trade
Published October 1, 2013
Genre - Contemporary/Historical Fiction Mix
Recvd directly from publisher in lieu on honest review