Title: The Empress of Time
Series: The Keeper of Night #2
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 4th, 2022 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England – she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But her problems have never been greater. Her Shinigami see her as a foreigner on the throne. Her brother, Neven, is gone, lost in the deep darkness. And her fiancé, Hiro, has been killed by her own hand.
Then Ren receives the most troubling news yet – Reapers have been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.
Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll help Ren only if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago – an impossible demand.
Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his brother Hiro, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her into the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust – and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance.
Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ten years after the events of the first book, Ren Scarborough is the Goddess of Death of Japan’s Underworld, but the Shinigami still see her as a foreigner for being half Reaper. Her brother Neven is still lost despite her efforts to locate him and the greatest threat yet is about to arrive on her shores. An invasion of Reapers is at hand, and her old enemy Ivy, who is now Britain’s Death Goddess is out for revenge. With only one way out, Ren sets off on a quest to retrieve a legendary sword lost thousands of years ago that the sea god has demanded as a price for helping her stop the Reapers. She will have to work with the moon god Tsukoyomi, who bears a strong resemblance to Hiro, to find the sword, but time is running short and Ren must figure out who is truly on her side.
The Empress of Time follows a pattern similar to the first book with the plot revolving around a quest, though the stakes are infinitely higher this time. It has the same vibe as well, and there was a lot of expansion on the world building. Several familiar faces make a reappearance and plenty of new ones too, including some of the other gods and goddesses ruling in Japan. This was a fast paced read and there wasn’t a quiet moment – things never stop moving and it was engaging. There was also plenty of mythology and mythological creatures woven in and I found those parts particularly interesting.
Ren was not a character I would describe as likeable in this book, but I thought her arc allowed the reader to understand her much better, especially her struggle to belong – something that hasn’t changed despite her becoming a goddess. Neven didn’t really click as much this time around and to be honest, I thought him being lost would be a plot point that would be resolved much later into the story than it was. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance arc and the book would have been much better without one in my opinion. It felt awkward and forced and didn’t make much sense to me.
I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I expected to, primarily because my eARC was missing chapter endings for some reason, which made it much harder to read. The time skip that this book started with didn’t help things, because the first book ended on a cliffhanger, and adding such a long gap greatly reduced its effect. There was a summary of the events that happened in those ten years and what Ren was up to, but it would have had more impact to see it instead.
This was a satisfactory conclusion to the duology, but I’m rather disappointed with the ending though it made sense. Overall, this book didn’t draw me in like the first book did and while the mood is similar, something was just lost between the two books. If you enjoyed book one, I would recommend finishing the series.
The Empress of Time releases on October 4th, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
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