I love traveling with the help of books – especially in these days. And A Thousand Steps Into Night takes us into a Japanese-inspired secondary world called Awara, following the adventures of Miuko. A world of demons, gods and humans, where anything can happen. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, and I hope you’ll follow me there.
Many thanks to Harper360YA for sending me an ARC. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 01/03/2022
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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.
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. (from HarperCollins)
OPINIONS: I love me a compelling YA. And A Thousand Steps Into Night has something that made me fall in love with it quite early on in the story: a scene in which Miuko, the main character, is disguised as male – magically, so she doesn’t have to worry about visibly passing – and has actual gender feelings about it. And not in the way of discovering that she is, in fact, trans or gender non-conforming, but a scene in which she moves through the world, ostensibly male for everyone who perceives her, but feeling uncomfortable in this body, specifically pointing out elements of dysphoria this disguise is giving her. And that is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a YA novel before. It is something so small – the scene only takes up a couple of pages – but it is something that meant a lot to me, to have this trope of a girl passing as a boy interrogated from the perspective of what this actually does with a person.
As a whole, the story is relatively fast-paced and compelling. It is in many ways a YA fantasy that revolves around tropes, and as such, doesn’t feel like it re-invents the wheel. But it is compelling and keeps the reader enthralled. Miuko is a charming heroine, and one who doesn’t feel overpowered. She isn’t incapable of failure – which for me is always something that irritates – and the narration sticks close enough to her to get her insecurities across. And that is where YA shines for me – the main characters are allowed to be insecure and not know how to deal with the world and unknown situations. I found A Thousand Steps Into Night to be a fun, escapist read with some deeper undertones that made me like it all the more.
Oh, and I loved the footnotes giving more information about the Japanese mythology behind creatures and elements in the story. Both in terms of pronunciation and backstory, I just loved the added focus on *this is something relevant* as somewhat of an information magpie.