Blood Pact (Youkai Bloodlines #2)


LGBTQ: A samurai warrior with a reputation for killing a thousand men and drinking the blood of his fallen enemy. A male geisha who provides song and hospitality at a place of repose. Two very different personalities make a stunning connection. Two sides of a yin and yang, reaching for one another. When his mother, the proprietress of the okiya, is mortally wounded by an influential client, Hiro runs to Sakurai Hideyoshi’s house to beg for help. Will the warrior be able to save the geisha’s adoptive parent? When the answer is “no”, Hiro entreats Sakurai-san to instead grant him the ability to avenge her death.

So begins their remarkably heart-felt and erotically charged alliance. Hiro has much to learn about Hideyoshi’s grisly world. Youtai are creatures of Japanese legend. They are neither inherently good nor evil, but like vampires of the West, are natural predators. It’s fascinating to watch Hiro adapt to his transformation. He leaves behind a human life of servitude to discover his own eternal purpose and drive. At the same time, he is juggling the confusing feelings of a first serious romantic relationship. His perspective feels very sympathetic and real. Courtney Maguire’s prose flows beautifully. Unfamiliar Japanese phrases, places and customs quickly become familiar under her skillful narrative. One would consider this an action adventure with the amount of blood running off the pages and the frequent swinging of swords, but it is the interpersonal aspect that elevates the story. Hiro and Hide’s relationship feels delicately romantic when juxtaposed with the violent existential crisis that threatens the youtai. Their love is beautifully, candidly portrayed. A hauntingly engaging read.

Joan Lai