As seen on Stumptown Books
Part of the Non-European Fantasy by Women
I read Little Sister for my October book of the month (see my review of it here
), and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was charming, witty, and heart-breaking, and reminded me why sometimes I can love young adult books as much if not more than books meant for adults. The Heavenward Path, published a mere two years after its predecessor, had, unfortunately, none of these traits.
Mitsuko is two years older now, and she goes through some typical teenage angst. Whereas in the first book, she was confronted with challenges and adventures and she said "Well, it has to be done, so I'm going to do it like a badass," in this book it was more of a "Why meeeee?" wail. It was irritating after seeing how great she could be. She is always dragging her feet in the adventures she goes on here, and at the end I thought how little had happened compared to how much action was packed into Little Sister.
Perhaps the comparison is unfair of me, but with so much to remind me of the original - the setting, characters, and even the writing style - it is hard not to be reminded, and wistful.
I loved seeing Goranu again but alas, he also lost much of his charm. He insisted on chasing after Mitsuko for no real discernible reason. Even when she rightfully calls herself selfish, he continues to bend over backwards for her. Love is great and all, but this guy wants to KILL himself to be with her. Illogical, captain.
Most of the three stars come from enjoying being back in this medieval fantasy Japan. Kara Dalkey has created a great world here and I can see why she would want to return to it. A few characters from the previous book show up, although Mitsuko spends most of her time complaining about them rather than reminiscing or anything.
I also enjoyed the haikus interspersed throughout. They were simple, yet poignant bits of poetry. I even wrote a few down to keep around, maybe for use in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
I still highly recommend Little Sister - it was one of my favorite reads of the whole year, after all - but I wouldn't bother with tracking down this much harder to find sequel.