Review of A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did. 

A Thousand Steps into Night is a standalone YA fantasy steeped in Japanese folklore. Following Miuko as she makes her way from clumsy awkward teen to clumsy awkward teen demon in waiting, the story feels somewhat childlike in its narrative. Miuko is from a sheltered home where propriety is held in high regard, her life experiences are minimal which are reflected in the way way the writing plays out. One thing is for sure, she just can’t catch a break and its both comical and heart breaking at times as she gets so near yet so far from what she is trying to achieve.

The story started off strong and i felt instantly pulled into the world, there was little lead into to the story arc and we hit the ground running along with Miuko as she quickly finds herself understanding what it is to be one foot in one world and the other somewhere else entirely. There is so much going on as Miuko runs against time from place to place searching for both a cure and place to hide from those giving chase – like so many “journey” based stories she finds many who both help and also hinder her in her task. I enjoyed how some of her stops felt like genuine trials, especially in the village without women, and that the sinister presence of the demon voice giving Miuko series pause to consider demon life.

However, i did find this book didn’t keep me as hooked as it did in the start, there was a huge number of people to keep track of and the flighty nature of the journey meant that world building had to take a back seat. It was just lacking a layer of substance that would have kept me hooked from page to page.

It’s a nice little fantasy adventure though, very much appropriate to the YA market and i liked that it was a standalone. If you’re after a light and quick read that isn’t fuelled by romance and has a strong focus on friendship and family, give this a go!

Thank you to Harper 360 YA for the review copy

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