Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani

If you are looking for a fast-paced read with lovable characters, a rich setting, and amazing worldbuilding, please look no further than Seven Deadly Shadows!

About the Book

Publisher: HarperCollins  |  Release Date: January 28, 2020  |  Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal  |  Format: eBook  |  Source: Publisher via FFBC

Seven Deadly Shadows coverKira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

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My Review

I am so excited to bring you my review for Seven Deadly Shadows as part of the blog tour!

“I am a girl surrounded by monsters and ghosts from an ancient world. Most days, they scare me less than people do.”

I’m a big fan of Courtney Alameda’s writing, so I jumped at the chance to read and review an ARC of this retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai despite not being familiar with the source material. This book cured my slump and I devoured it in two sittings. This is a fun and immersive read that I recommend with my whole heart.

The characters? Love them.

The magic system? Pretty badass.

The tension? Palpable.

The pacing? Lightning fast.

“Something screeches in the darkness. The sound drags itself across my skin, sharp enough to leave welts.”

This is a retelling that is very accessible to someone who isn’t familiar with the source material (aka me). Fast-paced and engaging, the worldbuilding  is richly and respectfully crafted. Shinto is a living faith and I appreciate that the authors took care to not depict rituals on page, as well as made a point to say that referring to Shinto or deities as “mythological” is inappropriate. I’m not an own-voices reader, but I could feel the care that the authors took to depict Shinto respectfully (which was reiterated in the author’s notes).

I think I should read more urban fantasy because I’m a sucker for stories with a hidden reality just beyond our knowledge that only a few Chosen can see. Every book in the genre that I pick up, I love. This book included!

“Perhaps it is better not to be the hero. You must remember one thing about the heroes from the old stories – not all of them survive.”

I was so invested in this book because of the captivating plot, but also because I loved the characters. Our main character is Kira Fujikawa and her family has tended to the Fujikawa Shrine for nearly one thousand years. She is the only one in her immediate family who has the ability to see the otherworldly beings called yokai demons around; it seems the gift skipped from her grandfather directly to her. This has her at odds with her parents and family tradition, the latter of which she is intensely proud to be a part of.

“In manga the hero responsible for saving the world generally gets a free pass on real life . . . but I don’t like in a manga world. The real world keeps moving forward, despite the danger it’s in.”

My favorite aspect of Seven Deadly Shadows is that Kira has to prepare for a supernatural war alongside all of her other responsibilities. Much like Buffy had to juggle high school with Slaying, Kira has to learn the skills necessary to battle against great evil, recruit allies, go to school, and find time to sleep. And she is tired. Kira doesn’t seem superhuman and become instantly good at battle, and she doesn’t become a master after one mere month of training either. She’s just a regular girl – Chosen insofar as having the ability to see the Yokai – rising to an insurmountable challenge and doing her best.

The band of champions that Kira recruits to fight alongside her gave me so many feels. I love groups of unlikely heroes. The more reluctant the “hero,” the more I love them and their sarcasm. Every character felt fully-fledged and real to me, each with varying and conflicting objectives that lead to complicated and tenuous relationships.

“Something screeches in the darkness. The sound drags itself across my skin, sharp enough to leave welts.”

The writing is effortless and engaging. While I wouldn’t remotely categorize this book with horror crossover, the atmosphere and horrific descriptions that I’ve come to associate with Alameda’s books is spine-tingling and present. I was able to guess most of the main plot points but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment because the story doesn’t hinge on those developments as twists.

“Fear doesn’t grip me immediately – it creeps into my soul like ice overtaking a pond, starting from the outside and working its way into the deepest, darkest parts of me.”

Overall, I absolutely adored Seven Deadly Shadows and devoured the book in two sittings. The rich worldbuilding draws you in slowly, building around you while you’re focused on everything else. I definitely recommend this to fans of anime, as well as anyone who enjoys urban fantasy.

Content warnings: bullying, death, depictions of grief, loss of a loved one

eARC provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, and FFBC in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication.

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About the Authors

Author - CourtneyCOURTNEY ALAMEDA
A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

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Author - ValynneVALYNNE E. MAETANI
Valynne E. Maetani (pronounced Vuh-lin Mah-eh-tah-nee) grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a full-time writer. She is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children’s literature because every child should grow up believing his or her story deserves to be told. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013, a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection, and Best Fiction Book in Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best of Utah Arts Award for 2015. She lives in Salt Lake City.

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Check Out the Rest of the Tour!

Click the banner to view full schedule!
Seven Deadly Shadows tour banner

January 28th

January 29th

NovelKnight – A post about Abe no Seimei, Japan’s Merlin, and how the book’s magic system was formed
Wishful Endings – Meet The Characters
Mythical Books – Review
Shelf-Rated – Review + Favourite Quotes

January 30th

Kait Plus Books – Deleted Scenes
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
L.M.Durand – Review
Artsy Draft – Review
Book-Keeping – Review

January 31st

Musings of a (Book) Girl – Yokai Bestiary
A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
moon & coffee. – Review
Hiver et Café – Review
Alys in Bookland – Review

February 1st

Skye’s Scribblings – The differences between Japanese culture and American culture
Aimee, Always – Review + Favourite Quotes

February 2nd

Books_and Poetrii – Official Book Playlist
Bookish Looks – The story behind the creation of the book’s map
The Magical Pages – Review

February 3rd

Confessions of a YA Reader – A ‘travelogue’ from my trip to Japan (2016), with the reference photos we used for the novel
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist
The Book Lyst – Review
Reader Voracious – Review

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

12 Comments

  1. Charvi

    February 3, 2020 at 2:15 AM

    I am SO looking forward to this book! Like you, I’m not really familiar with the source material either but it sounds like a fantastic read. Love your review, Kal!

    1. Kal

      February 20, 2020 at 3:05 PM

      The book is SO GOOD, Charvi! I honestly kept thinking about it so I wound up buying a finished copy last week, hahaha.

  2. Kayla @ Books and Blends

    February 3, 2020 at 6:37 PM

    Such an amazing review, Kal! I’ve had my eye on this because it seems like it could be an anime! I can’t wait to read it!

    1. Kal

      February 20, 2020 at 3:11 PM

      Thank you so much Kayla, and I think you will LOVE the book because it feels like an anime… and it also has a romance you probably will enjoy!

  3. Haley

    February 4, 2020 at 8:12 AM

    WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE EVERYTHING SOUND AMAZING?!!!! WHY?! *Adds to tbr* Great review!

    1. Kal

      February 20, 2020 at 3:18 PM

      *cackles maniacally* SORRY NOT SORRY!!!

  4. em/zainab

    February 20, 2020 at 12:14 PM

    great review, kal! this sounds like a book i’ll be interested in. thanks for bringing this to our attention, even though my pocket disagrees 😂 😭

  5. Lauren

    February 26, 2020 at 2:20 PM

    yes! this is on my wishlist so im really glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    1. Kal

      April 6, 2020 at 11:27 AM

      eyyy I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  6. Reg

    September 22, 2020 at 8:24 AM

    Okay I am in love with this cover. The story isn’t something I normally read but it just sounds so fun. Plus hearing it cured your reading slump in two sittings is super impressive. I have been trying to branch out and read things I normally wouldn’t so adding this to my TBR.

    1. Kal

      September 22, 2020 at 12:36 PM

      Yea this isn’t something I would normally pick up either, I am just a huge fan of Courtney Alameda… but I’m so glad I gave it a try! The fast pace is really good for the Slumpy Times.

  7. DB @ DB's Guide to the Galaxy

    October 16, 2020 at 9:05 AM

    I know Shutter’s cover but I don’t think I’ve really looked at this book, until now. Your review, as usual, makes me want to immediately pick the book up!

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