Book Review of Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

Posted August 23, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 40 Comments

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Adult, Dystopia
Source: NetGalley


The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.


The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.


Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Review:  I have read many good books this year. A few have been amazing. But there is always one that stands out more than the others. There is always one book that stands the test of time and you know will remain a favorite for years to come, possibly forever. For me, Stormdancer was that book. 

Yes, there is a lot of hype surrounding this book. Yes, many book bloggers and early readers have been fangirling like wackadoos. It’s easy to think that maybe the reviews are overcompensating or being overly nice because the author has a huge online presence on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. He is truly a nice guy and I think I quite like him, but that would never affect the way I feel about a book. If I hated it, I would say so. But I can readily stand up loud and clear and tell you personally that this book lives up to ALL the hype.

I don’t even know what to say. I have three pages of notes and bunches of status updates, but nothing sounds right when I type it. Let’s try this:

That’s right. This book was so utterly brilliant, I don’t even…there are no words. I normally don’t include GIFs in my reviews. But how do I describe my love for the characters and the writing and the freaking magnificent world-building when there aren’t enough words in the damn dictionary to describe everything I felt? Seriously, the tension in this book. It’s a page turner. There were times while reading when I was pretty much like this:

Alright, let’s get serious. I am going to just copy directly from my notes, since they are truthfully what I was feeling while I was reading. First of all, you should know this was a 5 star book for me from around page 30 until the end. It started with the writing being outstanding. I was in hushed awe of the beautiful prose. Then I was flabbergasted by the detailed–but never tedious world-building. Slowly but surely I found myself falling in love with Yukiko, Buruu and all the rest. The development of the characters, even the minor ones, showed the true skill of the author. When there are a lot of characters in the book, but each one has an individual voice and personality, well that’s pretty impressive.

Stormdancer is published by Thomas Dunne which is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press. I normally don’t talk about the publisher in my reviews, but I feel here it is necessary because it is an adult imprint. This book has bigtime crossover potential, but I wouldn’t call this a YA book. The subject matter is serious, there are some dark themes (environmental and religious), and it is definitely almost too complex for the YA genre. By using an adult imprint, the publisher has the ability to introduce this to a wider audience which is as it should be. I think there will be many different types of readers that enjoy this book. Some teens, some adults, but I think I would agree with the decision to use an adult imprint and not YA.

The environmental message is essential to the book because it is such an important component in the setting. Shima is a dying land due to the farming of Blood Lotus. EVERYTHING in Shima runs on Blood Lotus. Since this is a steampunk setting, you know how important fuel is. Not only is it important in their daily lives, but they also smoke it as a drug. And it’s addictive. Yukiko’s father is addicted to smoking lotus. The farming of lotus is polluting everything in Shima. The soil is dying, the plant life and animal life are almost extinct, and the terrible air quality forces the citizens of Shima to wear mechanical masks which most people cannot afford. People get sick and die a slow agonizing death if they do not protect themselves from the pollution in the air. There are more secrets to the production of Blood Lotus that are revealed later on, but I hope this paragraph gives you an idea of how detailed and depressing this world truly is. I kind of feel like Shima was a character in the book; perhaps the strongest character of all.

And if Shima was the strongest character, Buruu was my favorite character. It’s not difficult for me to get attached to animals in literature and movies, but Buruu was something truly special. I don’t want to ruin him with spoilers, but he was written in a way that made him multi-dimensional. He jumps right off the page. Buruu is not an ordinary animal; he is a mythological beast with a voice all his own. It’s a voice that I think anyone with a heart will fall hard for. This is not to say that the other characters are not strong–they are–but Buruu steals every scene he is in, and even some that he isn’t. I LOVED him. 

The writing was absolutely gorgeous and the plot will hook you like no other. This book is a page turner. For serious. I don’t think this is a book for everyone; I think the descriptions and sensory language may be too rich for some. Stormdancer is a moderately paced book with a ton of action, but it does take a certain amount of patience and if you are the type of reader looking for a quick payoff, you won’t find it here. If, however, you are looking for an epic story to get emotionally invested in (and I mean that–I sobbed more than once) with characters that feel truly real, and a setting that you can almost taste and feel, then I think this is the book for you.

I sobbed upon finishing this book. It was such an emotional experience. I think this is probably my favorite book of the year so far. Top ten ever, maybe. Either way, it is a must read. The plot twists will have your jaw on the floor and immediately upon finishing, you will want to reread this book. I know I did. Every time I thought this book couldn’t possibly get better, it did. Again and again. And I’m out of words. Fin.

To purchase Stormdancer from, click here: Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One). I am an affiliate, so if you purchase a copy, please use my links. 🙂

40 responses to “Book Review of Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

  1. Fantastic review, Kara! I’ve got a copy but I’ve been putting it off because I know I need to give the book time and not rush it so I might start it over the weekend.

    I can’t wait to meet Buruu, I’m sure I will love him as much as you did and I like that this book is a cross-over, I have a few friends who I want to pass it onto and now I can tell them it’s not really YA so they don’t dismiss it

    • Yes, it is definitely the type of book you want to savor. I really do hope you love Buruu. And I think you will since you are such an animal lover. And yes, this is definitely a book that ALL lovers of fantasy will enjoy, including adults.

  2. Yay! I saw your review on Goodreads and I was surprised you loved it I was seeing so many DNFs from it. Now I’m actually a bit more motivated to give it a try. Fantasy and me don’t always mesh but this sounds like it’s brilliantly written! Great review, muffin!!

  3. K I’m not reading this right now because I am on the blog tour for this one and I haven’t read it yet but let me just say that I am happy that you adored it! I was a bit wary because the fangirling was getting to be a bit much, but I know you are quite skeptical over books that get crazy hype so it’s perfect that you loved it! Will come back for another comment once I have read it myself!

    • You are lucky that you got on the blog tour for this. I would have loved to be on it. You are right. The fangirling was a bit much which was why I addressed it in my review! But it’s worth ALL of the hype! Please come back and let me know what you thought!

  4. Buruu really worms his way into your heart. The emotion, the comedy, the empathy rolling off of this character reaches across the page and snares you! Buruu pretty much stole the entire story!

  5. Amy

    I am going to be reading this really soon. I am so excited to get to it. It sounds like a fantastic book. I was a bit nervous because of all the hype surrounding it. You have made me not so nervous and even more excited to dive in!!

  6. I’d already read your GR, so I know how much you loved it. Then, I saw your giveaway and I got ridiculously excited. This book sounds so great. =D

  7. I have ebook copy of this book and I’m currently reading it! 🙂 I haven’t read much but it already is interesting! 🙂 Great review and thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  8. Glad to see another fan of the book. It’s been nearly two months since I read it and I swear I could’ve reread it 30 times since then if I didn’t have so many other books to read.

  9. I’ve been extremely curious about this book for a while now. It’s something I definitely want to read, since combination of Japan and steampunk is so unique and original. Plus, I love Japan and everything related to this wonderful country 🙂 I’ll definitely try and get my hands on it when it’s out, but it would be simply brilliant if I won your giveaway copy!

  10. Ahh I absolutely freaking LOVED this book too!! I still haven’t written my review because I’m still having trouble coherently putting my thoughts/feelings about it into words. It was easily one of the amazingly brilliant books I’ve read and definitely a favorite!

    Loved your review as usual 🙂

    Had to re-post is since I was signed into my other account haha :p

    • It was, Taylor. I had a major problem writing my review too. In the end, I just did the best I could. But I don’t think I will ever find enough words in the dictionary to express my love for this book.

  11. WACKADOOS. I love this word. You THINK you quite like him? lol. This amuses me also. As does that gif.

    BEAUTIFUL PROSE. I also mentioned the whole not YA thing in my review. I don’t know how it got that rep in the interwebs, but it sure did. The fact that Thomas Dunne is an adult imprint explains how I got chosen for a review copy. I’ve always had more luck with adult publishers.


    🙂 I knew you would love it, and I agree that everyone won’t. The pace is too slow for some readers. Not for us, though!

    • Yeah, definitely. It’s YA crossover but already I have seen some bloggers who only read YA DNFing this one. That makes me sad, but people like what they like. I’m glad you loved it though. We agree more often than not.

  12. SHELDON!!!! <3

    I’m so excited to meet Buruu! I want to be emotional and I’m so excited to pick up my jaws on the floor. I’m reading it right now, and it’s so freaking fabulous I just can’t seem to put it down. The thing is, I have exams this week and I believe it’d screw my grades over.


    PS. I love your review.

  13. Kara,

    I really appreciate the effort you took in writing this review of STORMDANCER. First of all, I love that this wasn’t easy for you to write because it was one of those rare, magical books that only come along once in awhile. The fact that you feel it will stick with you for a long time to come, possibly forever, speaks to the depth it attained in the reading experience.

    I totally agree. I read the first 3 chapters online and fell hard. I even did fanart for it and posted a whole blog post about it here:( I can tell you had that kind of experience with it and I know mine will be the same. If I’m already hooked now, I’m sure it will be similar for me through to the end. I did not win the last ARC, btw. I would be thrilled to win this and review it if I am fortunate enough to be selected. Thanks for the great review. Thank you also that it wasn’t spoilery.

  14. I think it’s safe to say this is the best review of this book I’ve read by far. Don’t get me wrong all the reviews I’ve read of this book have only raved about it, too! I’m really jealous of all of you that have gotten to read this book already. *pouts* I hope to either win or purchase it soon. *crosses fingers* Always an insightful review Kara! 🙂
    DeAnna Schultz

  15. I will be the first to admit that I am easily hyped up over books. Especially books with dystopian settings, dark, meaningful themes, strong female characters, mythological creatures, steampunk themes…okay, basically everything Stormdancer contains. But your review gave me chills. As a perpetually-broke college student, I (of course) am absolutely frothing at the thought of winning this book for free, but your review has convinced me that this is a book I will happily pay for. Incidentally, the content of your review (the attention to the author’s writing style, characterization, etc. rather than just “OMG I LOVED IT!) has me hooked on your reviews as well. You obviously consider your reviews carefully before you release them, and your attention to details that I find important makes me trust your reviews over many others that I have seen. Thank you for writing a review of Stormdancer.

    • My review gave you chills? I think that may be the nicest thing someone has ever said about one of my reviews. So thank you for that. Also, thanks for complimenting my writing style. I always wonder if my reviews are too vague and repetitive, but you nipped that worry in the bud for me.

      I hope you win the book, but if you don’t, I definitely recommend this one as a buy. If the things I loved are the things you love, this is definitely one you are going to want to add to your shelf.

      Thank you so much for commenting. <3

  16. I love your review 🙂 I have been reading about this book for months and have been dying to read it but this review sealed the deal. I am so excited to read it 🙂

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