Samurai, assassins, warlords... and a girl who likes to climb
Kano Murasaki, you may not realize it, but I have done you a great favor. I have it in my power to give you a gift that you don’t even realize you desire. Make yourself worth my trouble, and you will be glad of it. Disappoint me, and you will be very, very sorry.
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Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems
Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.
”Tight, exciting, and thoughtful... The characters are nicely varied and all the pieces fit into place deftly.” -- Kirkus Reviews
"Risuko is an artfully crafted novel that evokes a heavy sense of place and enchantment. The world in which Risuko lives is filled with lords and ladies, spies, and complicated battles, not all of which are fought out on the field. Lady Chiyome especially is an interesting figure, with a depth that is mirrored in the complicated relationships in the rest of the tale. Risukobecomes an interesting blend of both the historical and the magical, and the stakes of the story are enormous. In turn, Risuko's development and evolution are fascinating to watch in this powerful and relentless coming-of-age adventure."--Foreword Reviews (spotlight review)
Seasons of the Sword
Can one girl win a war?
Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel), is a young fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome.
Or could she?
Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers
Named for a squirrel and her affinity for climbing tall trees in her native Japan, Risuko (born Kano Murasaki) is swept away with a palanquin of Lady Chiyome after being sold by her mother. Her province of Serenity is under attack as part of a century-long war and Risuko may be a source of hope and defense. Vividly portrayed, flush with cultural detail, and smoothly written, Kudler's novel avoids over-embellished prose and sticks to a flowing storyline with language that is accessible and a plot that is compellingly action-packed without resorting to excessive violence. Risuko is a resilient, exciting, and fearless character that readers will enjoy following through this and the story's next installments. Maps, a glossary, character profiles, and a sneak preview into the next chapter in this unique historical YA series adds brightness and a vivid sense of place to an already impressive, adventuresome, coming-of-age story.
Date Submitted: September 14, 2016
A century of civil war has devastated Japan, but Kano Murasaki has grown up far from the conflicts and battles that rage in the nation. Nicknamed “Squirrel,” or Risuko, all the young girl wants to do is climb trees as she grows up in the Serenity Province. And yet, Risuko finds herself drawn into the war and handed responsibilities and expectations that she had never dreamed of when her innocuous hobby—tree-climbing—suddenly draws the attention of a powerful lady.
Now, Risuko finds herself pulled into a realm where the stakes are higher and the world more complicated and deadly. While some in her community believe that she can “bring victory” and become “a very special kind of woman,” Risuko longs to return to the simplicity of her life before. And yet, she finds herself in the center of the conflict, with the power in her hands to either reunite the nation for good, or to destroy it entirely.
Risuko is an artfully crafted novel that evokes a heavy sense of place and enchantment. The world in which Risuko lives is filled with lords and ladies, spies, and complicated battles, not all of which are fought out on the field. Lady Chiyome especially is an interesting figure, with a depth that is mirrored in the complicated relationships in the rest of the tale. Risuko becomes an interesting blend of both the historical and the magical, and the stakes of the story are enormous. In turn, Risuko’s development and evolution are fascinating to watch in this powerful and relentless coming-of-age adventure.
In this YA historical novel set in Japan s Sengoku period, a girl who adores climbing attends an unusual school.
Your mother sold you to me this morning. With this, young Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) for her love of climbing, learns she s to accompany imperious old Lady Chiyome s palanquin. Risuko s father was a samurai, a prestigious occupation in war-torn 16th-century Japan. After being disgraced, he had to find work as a scribe; he taught Risuko to read and write, but with him dead now, the family is near starving and Risuko s best option is to comply. The traveling party undergoes a cold and dangerous journey as it tries to dodge the fighting between rival warlords. Along the way, Risuko displays some of her abilities not just climbing, but calligraphy, bird calls, and presence of mind when attacked. When they finally reach the Mochizuki compound, Risuko becomes a novice, believing that she s being trained as a shrine attendant. There s talk of initiates becoming kunoichi, which no one will explain: you ll just have to find out on your own. At first, the novices perform only menial tasks, especially kitchen work, but they eventually receive lessons in music, singing, and dancing. But suspicion and intrigue (both political and romantic), plus attempted thievery and worse, tear apart the Mochizuki community, leading to a dramatic confrontation with the truth. Kudler (How Raven Brought Back the Light, 2014, etc.) draws on one of the most fascinating elements of Japan s feudal period the kunoichi, or female ninja. (Mochizuki Chiyome is a historical figure who trained young women as spies and assassins, using cover identities such as shrine attendants, servants, and prostitutes.) Also intriguing are the cultural details that Kudler weaves into his story, such as the Retreat, a small building where Mochizuki s women stay during their periods. The characters are nicely varied and all the pieces fit into place deftly, such as how Risuko s dance movements and kitchen skills can be used in fighting.
A tight, exciting, and thoughtful first volume in what promises to be a fine series about a female ninja.
You can reserve your copy of Risuko now plus much more — at a discount from the retail price — and help support the publication of this exciting new teen historical adventure novel!
Author David Kudler has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help make Risuko the best book it can possibly be.
While Risuko is nearly finished*, there’s still more we’d like to do, and we need your help. Reaching the funding goal will help create an attractive, exciting, historically and culturally accurate thrill-ride of a teen book.
Some things you’ll help make happen:
- Producing an audiobook
- Final fact-checking by a historian (support your local scholar!)
- Advance reviews (Yes, disgusting isn’t it? Some of the major sources of book reviews charge small publishers simply to be reviewed.)
- Inclusion in major catalogues, trade shows, etc.
- Thank-you gifts for the Risuko Beta Team (a group of phenomenal teens and adults who are helping me to polish the final book)
Back Risuko now, and please share this with your friends and followers!
* There’s an old saying in publishing: “Books are never finished, only abandoned.” There’s always more to do! That’s the great thing about a launch date — it forces the author and editors to stop tinkering and move on to the next book.