eARC Book Review: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

Risuko: A Kunoichi TaleGoodreads Synopsis

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.


I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Risuko is a story about Kano Murasaki, otherwise known as ‘Risuko’- squirrel- because of her incredible climbing abilities. On an unfortunate day, Risuko is sold by her family to Lady Chiyome to be a student at her school and learn how to become a kunoichi.

Risuko doesn’t know who Lady Chiyome is when she first meets her and thinks about running off from her company more than once but stays because she’s quite curious. She doesn’t know why she was sold and as the reader, it won’t be found out until quite a few chapters in.

This story takes place in the 1400s so it took a bit getting used to. I didn’t so much mind the time period this was set in- honestly, I barely noticed it because it wasn’t an ‘in your face’ thing. The men and females were separated, which I assume was normal for the culture and they weren’t allowed to talk to each other except for meal times- maybe that was just the period? It was exciting to see the different rituals they went through, like not saying the name of a person for 49 days after their death.

Characters: Risuko was a lot younger that I thought she’d be. I was expecting a teenager but I got, well…a child. She was likeable, but I think her immaturity and lack of knowledge made her a difficult character to get along with.

Emi, another girl that was with Risuko, was reserved and quiet whereas Toumi’s scowling got annoying after a while.

I liked the supporting characters a lot- maybe even more than the main character- and I thought they really helped bring the story alone.

Likes: I really liked that they writing was so great- really captivating- and in the end that was one of the main reasons I kept reading.

Dislikes: The characters weren’t easy to relate to and I found the pace of the story to be very slow. I didn’t understand what went on and halfway through the book I still had a tough time figuring out what exactly the book was about.

Overall Thoughts: I was confused throughout the book and that confusion wasn’t really abated, even at the end. I would read this author’s other work in the future, but not with these characters.

Read: 31 May 2016
Rating: ★★

Publication Date: 15 June 2016
Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: David Kudler


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