Le masque de Nô

Le masque de Nô
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, Book # 1
Gallimard Jeunesse
August 27th 2020
Paperback
416
French
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June 23, 2021 July 11, 2021

The chronicles of maple and cherry tree form a tetralogy set in seventeenth-century Japan. We follow two heroes, Ichirō, a young samurai with a fabulous destiny, and the mysterious Hiinahime, a stranger who hides behind a Nō mask. In the first two volumes the narrator is Ichirō, in the other two it will be the heroine Hiinahime's turn to tell the story. The first volume, entitled The Nō Mask, traces Ichirō's life from childhood to adolescence. Abandoned, Ichirō is raised as a son by an unknown samurai who teaches him the way of the sword. The boy will live a solitary existence in the mountains, in the heart of a wild nature and at the rhythm of the seasons, between moments of bliss and lightheartedness and an apprenticeship that requires perseverance and courage. But one tragic night, Ichirō's life is turned upside down by the attack of shady samurai. Destiny will then take him to Edo (ancient Tokyo), where he will begin performing in kabuki theaters; there he will make his first friendships and meet Hiinahime, the unknown woman with the Nō mask.


About the book

First book in the series set in Edo period Japan (17th century) entitled Les chroniques de l’érable et du cerisier which, from the Italan translation (sorry don’t know any French) should be The Chronicles of Maple and Cherry tree, a very intriguing title. We are in the period in which the Tokugawa family holds the maximum political and military power in Japan, a period of isolation and persecution of Christians.

The book begins with a Master, a former samurai, who finds a child in a biwa shell in the forest near his isolated mountain home. He takes him home and together with the housekeeper he raises him as if he were his son. The latter, Ichirō, is raised with samurai teachings, of which the Master is an expert, until the Master’s past comes knocking on the door of the isolated house and Ichirō is catapulted into ancient Edo (current Tokyo) where, to survive, he has to beg and live on the streets, until he meets a poet who will help him find work. He also discovers the Kabuki theater and thanks to this, he makes his first friends. In Edo he also meets Hiinahime, a girl who hides behind a mask of the Nō theater.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
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Redhook
September 10th 2019
Hardcover
374
English
June 5, 2021 June 13, 2021
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In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


About the book

1900s, early years, there is a special house in Vermont with so many treasures that they don’t seem of this world. January’s father works for Mr. Locke, a somewhat eccentric collector and she lives in his house. At the age of seven, January finds a door that leads to a parallel world. Our world is full of these doors and January quickly realises that these doors can explain her birth. In fact she is orphaned of a mother or so she thinks. When she finds a little book she realises that she has to find out the truth especially after her father has gone missing.

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Across the Nightingale Floor

Across the Nightingale Floor
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, Book # 1
ISIS Large Print Bks
August 26th 2002
Hardcover
462
English
May 21, 2021 May 24, 2021

In his fortress at Inuyama, the murderous warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.

Brought up in a remote village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny within the walls of Inuyama – and to an impossible longing for a girl who can never be his. His journey is one of revenge and treachery, beauty and magic, and the passion of first love.


About the book

Across the Nightingale Floor is first of all a Fantasy. The author bases her world on medieval Japan, but being a fantasy, it’s not historically accurate. In fact, this is not the author’s intent. I want to clarify this because many have not understood the author’s intent at all and if you read this book because it talks about Japan, the premises are wrong and therefore you cannot be angry about a wrong representation of the country.

That said, the book is Takeo’s coming-of-age story, a little boy who, one day, is deprived of his family and village. He is saved by the noble Otori who will take him with him to his house and adopt him.

The story, however, is also of Kaede, a noble hostage of a noble, Iida, who (Kaede) will have to deal with the will of the lords of the time and act as a pawn in the war between the two clans (Otori and Thoan, Iida’s clan).

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely
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, Book # 1
Bloomsbury YA
January 29th 2019
eBook
506
English
March 3, 2021 March 5, 2021
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Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.


About the book

A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first book in The Cursebreakers trilogy. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and therefore is somewhat a fairytale-like Young Adult. We are in Washington, DC, where Harper lives with her brother and mother, sick with cancer. While she is helping her brother (involved in petty criminal acts due to their father leaving them in debt), she sees a man kidnap a girl. To save her, Harper attempts to hit the man, but suddenly finds herself in a new world that she doesn’t recognise. The man is Gray, the Commander of the Emberfall royal family, a world parallel to ours. The prince is Rhen and he is the beast of the “fairy tale” but he is a particular beast because he becomes a monster only at the end of the autumn season, when the girl he kidnapped from the other world, doesn’t fall in love with him.

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The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower
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, Book # 2
Del Rey
December 5th 2017
Hard cover
363
English
May 4, 2020 May 6, 2020

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


About the book

The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy series and follows the first book. As the first, the book is divided in parts, four this time. The first part is dedicates to Vasja’s sister, Ol’ga and brother, Saša who are in Moscow. Here we come to know about Ol’ga’s life since she left her father’s household to become the princess of Sepurchov.

We learn that villages are attacked and that three girls are kidnapped in each village. Saša, who is a warrior monk leave Moscow with the Great Prince Dmitrji to stop these attacks and it is in a monastery close to one of the attacked villages that he meets Vasja once again. Continue reading “The Girl in the Tower”