Shin is a powerful shapeshifter, but he is yet vulnerable, and too many creatures, both mythic and mortal, have a stake in his death. Caught between his samurai uncle’s ambitions for a bloodless war and his shapeshifter mother’s immortal fight for celestial territory, Shin’s uncle gives him up as a tribute warrior for the shogunate military.
In time, Shin wins the army’s loyalty away from the shogun to a cause he can’t be sure of himself, then strikes off on a new mission to recruit an assassin for the revolution. But this assassin is unlike any he has known before. She may kill him in the bargain, but only if all goes well.
Shin is a follow up to T. Cook’s novel, Spinning Silk. Shin tells the same story, but instead of Furi’s pov, we follow Shin this time around. I think, if you liked Spinning Silk, you’re going to want to pick this one up, because even though it’s the same story, we do get some additional information with this new POV. (And I do highly recommend checking out Spinning Silk if you haven’t already – you can see my review for that here.)
I really enjoyed seeing the events of the story from another perspective, especially since Shin was probably my favorite character from Spinning Silk (I like a mysterious guy, what can I say?). I loved getting to know this character. I can see why Shin’s pov wasn’t an option with the first book–it wouldn’t have worked with the tone of the story and keeping Shin shrouded in mystery if some of the parts had been from his perspective. But, I appreciate that we get to see his life here. In the first book when we learn about his background it’s amidst a bunch of other exposition. Here we get to experience his life and possibly form different opinions about his character. We get to see the way he was raised and the relationships he has with various members of his family.
As with Spinning Silk, one of my favorite things about this book was the prose and the style of writing. T. Cook has a fantastic way of utilizing the language to form a certain cadence within the prose. It contributes a lot to the atmospheric feel of the story. One of the other things I loved about this is that is plays with the idea of fate and inevitability in the way that fairy tales and myths do sometimes. The idea that Shin is trying to avoid his ultimate fate while also being inexorably drawn to it keeps the momentum of the story going. I’m really glad we got to see certain events play out through Shin because some of the events at the end of Spinning Silk felt rather abrupt and this helps with our understanding about how these events had been set in motion for a long time.
Overall, I really enjoyed Shin! If you’re interested in books that explore Japanese mythology in a fantasy setting, I’d say definitely pick up Spinning Silk first and then check out Shin–I think it works best as a companion to the first novel. 4/5 stars.