{Book Review} Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

{Book Review} Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David KudlerRisuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler
Series: Seasons of the Sword #1
Published by Stillpoint Digital Press on June 15, 2016
Genres: Children's, Fantasy, Historical, Middle Grade
Pages: 230
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Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.

Risuko has a pleasant and mysterious tone that works well for the first third, then becomes tedious for the rest of the book. I did read all the way to the end, though I was tempted to mark it as DNF, simply because not a whole lot happens.

Risuko follows the story of a young girl (nicknamed Risuko) who is bought from her family by a mysterious woman (Lady Chiyome), who claims that she is training shrine maidens; however, Risuko comes to find out that this isn’t entirely true.

And honestly, that’s what happens. Like, I didn’t leave much out with that one sentence. Risuko and two other girls learn how to cook things, butcher animals so they can cook them, move piles of heavy stones from one place to another…Riskuo climbs things (that’s her special skill, which was pretty cool in the beginning, but then she hardly ever used it). They keep hearing and using the word “Kunoichi”, but they don’t really know what it means (they hardly know why they’re even there), and even when they do know, it doesn’t change much.

In its defense, there are some really nice cultural/historical things in Risuko, that I found very interesting (I’m always fascinated by Japanese Culture). There wasn’t really much character development. I really wanted to like the pseudo-romance/fighting between a very charming Lieutenant and one of the older girls at Lady Chiyome’s “school”, but it was really a case of too little, too late. The whole book was kind of like that. Like, I wanted to really like everything, but there just wasn’t enough of anything. I felt like most of this book could have been condensed into three or four chapters, setting up a big conflict. The big conflict in Risuko took place in the last few chapters, and while it was definitely the best part of the book, you had to wade through chapters of cooking for about 75% of the book to get to the actual conflict. Like, the first sentence of the synopsis is “Can one girl win a war?”. There is NOTHING about “one girl” winning any sort of “war”. I can definitely see how a sequel where Risuko actually does something could be very interesting, especially if it involves Risuko being a spy of some sort, and fighting in the civil war.

So I guess if you’re really interested in Japanese Culture, and you don’t mind a slow moving Middle Grade, I’d recommend this book to you. The writing style is quite nice, and the actual writing itself is good. I didn’t hate it, by any means, it just turned into one of those books that I sort had to force myself to read at least one chapter a day because it just wasn’t moving anywhere.

This book is counting towards my “NetGalley and Edelweiss Challenge”, and my “May 2016 Clean Sweep ARC Challenge”. To see more info on my 2016 Reading Challenges, go HERE.

Content: A little violence, nothing too bad. Middle Grade. Recommended for 11+

Book Review #2

3 Stars


  1. sjhigbee says:

    It sounds like it needed an infusion of action:). A shame it didn’t get it,by the sound of it – particularly as it’s for younger readers, who like plenty happening in their books.

    • Jessica says:

      I wouldn’t say it was a terrible book, it just moved too slowly for me. It has likable characters which is nice; I’m also not big on middle grade books, unless they are something really special or exciting. I prefer more character development and more serious conflicts (plus romance haha). I hope you enjoy it at least a little bit!

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