Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Narrator: Rebecca Yeo
Audiobook Length: 12 hours 22 minutes
Death is her destiny.
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
The Keeper of the Night is the first novel in the duology of the same name. When I first came across this novel, I was under the impression that it was a standalone either from missing a label or it was expanded to a duology after I initially saw it. As it is the beginning of a series, I went into it with different expectations compared to a standalone. The story follows a half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami (a soul collector) named Ren Scarborough in the 1890s, who does not know how to fit in either world. She serves as a Reaper in London, however, an incident makes her flee and she goes to Japan to attempt to fit in as a Shinigami. Here she is tasked by the Goddess of Death to kill three Yokai Demons in Yomi, the land of the dead. On her journey are her brother, Haven, and guide, a Shinigami named Hiro.
Ren is a great morally grey character as she is determined to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. While her relationship with her brother is explored in depth, there is not a lot of information about the background of her family. For me, I would have loved this dynamic talked about more to understand Ren’s family. Ren’s character is written more as an anti-hero and it was difficult to fully connect to her character. She makes terrible decisions and is frustrating at times, but the reader does feel for her becoming upset with constant rejection. Hiro is an interesting character has he was mysterious where the reader learns some pieces about him, but it feels that there is still a long way to go. There are some interesting twists involving his character and I enjoyed how they added some intensity to the latter half of the novel. On the other hand, there is Neven, who is compassionate and merciful. He provides a nice balance to Hiro and Ren.
The story starts off slow as the reader is introduced to the world of Reapers and Ren’s lack of belonging. Once Ren begins her quest, the story moves along at a faster pace. There is a lot of tension build-up to a nice ending that makes me want to read the sequel, even though I was not fully in love with this installment. The legends kept me interested in the story as there are some interesting explorations into the mythology. There is a romance in this story that feels a little on the insta-love side, but it does take a backseat in the big picture plot. Overall, this story is full of many complex and flawed characters with an interesting quest. There are some elements that I wished were explored in more depth, but there is definitely enough to make me want to continue to read the sequel when it is published.