on October 25th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQIA, Young Adult, YA
A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.
I received a copy of this novel for review, this does not influence my thoughts on the book or this review.
When I heard about Smith’s latest novel, I knew I had to read it. A dark Japanese revenge fantasy sounds totally up my alley. If you’re looking for a creepy and compelling read, A Darkly Beating Heart is one I highly recommend.
Reiko is full of anger and her family doesn’t know how to deal with her. When they send her to stay with her uncle’s family in Japan for the summer, she discovers a rock that transports her into the life of Miyu, a woman living in 19th century Japan. As Reiko’s identity becomes more and more blurred as she travels through time, she has to confront her anger in order to save herself, and perhaps Miyu’s village.
A Darkly Beating Heart was extremely dark which I don’t usually enjoy but I really loved it in this one. I also loved how creepy it got at some point, it would make for a great Halloween read. While the novel is short, it is so fast-paced and awesome.
Reiko’s anger is something that interested me, as her past is alluded to but not really fully made clear until the middle of the novel. It was refreshing to read about an angry teen who did not have to hide who she was, and who might have made some bad decisions but she was able to do them. Perhaps some would view Reiko as unlikeable but I found her completely compelling and interesting.
Overall, A Darkly Beating Heart is a phenomenal novel that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend it for those looking for a refreshing new YA that mixes gritty realism with some magic realism.