Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.
When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.
15 going on 16-year old Mio Yamato wants to spice up her Christmas costume to make her stick out. She has the perfect thing for it. Mio takes the family's ancestral Japanese Katana out of its hiding place and in the process, unleashes a powerful and deadly evil onto London streets. Her actions open the door on her own families secrets and responsibilities as the protector of the sword itself. Not easy for a person who is clueless about any of it and does the best she can with what she's given.
Mio finds herself having vivid visions, as well as Japanese demons wanting her dead. Mio will have to join forces with her best friend Jacqueline (Jack) Luci, a samurai warrior named Shinobu who arrives from 500 years into the past, and a fox spirit named Hikaru and his clan of Kitsuné, to defeat the giant nine-tailed cat demon from the Underworld. She must also find a way to unlock the Katana's secrets and learn why the demons want the sword so badly that they are willing to go to great lengths to get it.
Mio is a case study in being patient with a character. She makes silly mistakes, like taking the Katana in the first place, and not listening to her Ojiichan in keeping its existence a secret, hidden, and protected from prying eyes. She doesn't really understand the true power and responsibility that the Katana comes with until she has to save someone close to her, and is chased by truly evil demons. She's a bit too eager to unlock things that should have remained hidden away and learns that actions do come with consequences.
Mio does grow up which is a huge thing for me. I don't mind stories or characters starting out a bit on the lame or dullard side if they end up learning from their mistakes. Mio changes over the course of this story both physically and emotionally. She becomes a character that you can definitely look forward to seeing what happens next. I also like the dynamics of having Mio, Jack, and Shinobu working together as a sort of mini Scooby Gang kicking demons ass, and saving the world.
Mio's relationship with Shinobu will probably be challenged as insta-love, or love at first sight. I don't have a problem with this aspect in The Name of the Blade because Mio had had a connection with Shinobu even if she didn't know it at the time. It was that connection that allows Shinobu to arrive in London, and not feel like a stranger in a strange land, or not understand the language. I really like Shinobu, and hope that we get to learn more about his past, as well as Mio's family connection to the sword.
The Name of the Blade, previously called The Night Itself, is finally being released in the USA. I am happy that Candlewick sent me a copy of this story, and hope they think about me when the second installment comes hopefully next year. I have to say that after reading Marriott's Shadows of the Moon, I was eager to see if she can continue her magical world building with likable and interesting characters and a story that keeps me entertained. I will say that I was happy with the overall story and am eager to read the sequel once it releases in the US.
Author - Zoe Marriott
Title - The Name of the Blade
Series - The Name of the Blade # 1
Published in the US by Candlewick
Released: November 11, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 368 pages