Bright Eyes: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword)

Young Adult

In feudal Japan, Risuko and fellow students Emi, Toumi, Mai, and Shino train to become kunoichi under the instruction of Lady Chiyome. The kunoichis are, to the outside world, shrine maidens. But to those in the know, they are also deadly assassins. When the Takeda and Matsudaira armies arrive at Full Moon, trouble follows. A man turns up dead, presumably a suicide, but it is quickly shown to be a murder. This murder must be solved. As time goes on, Risuko continually stumbles upon suspicious tidbits that may or may not be linked to the same crime. The safety…and secrets…of everyone at Full Moon are at stake unless the pieces can be put together.

David Kudler crafts an enthralling, unputdownable tale due in no small part to his outstanding worldbuilding. He ties in enough aspects of real-life feudal Japanese culture to give the perfect balance of reality in this fictional world. The plot moves a little too slowly at times and races at others, needing a bit more balance. However, the storyline is captivating even still, with unexpected twists and turns sprinkled throughout the journey. While each character is interesting, they could use a bit more depth. Amongst the initiates, surliness is a common character trait.  While their backstories make this understandable, there is little to truly distinguish their unique personalities and endear them to the readers. However, in the grand scheme of things, these shortcomings are minor and do not detract from the enjoyable nature of the story. The well-crafted mystery, well-honed history and world-building, and Risuko’s adventurousness leave the reader wanting more. 

Shailyn Rogers