A breathtaking new urban fantasy trilogy from the critically acclaimed, award winning author of The Swan Kingdom and Shadows on the Moon.
When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana – an ancestral Japanese sword – out of its hiding place in her parent’s attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.
I don’t travel well. If my mode of transportation doesn’t consist of my own two feet, or a vehicle I am steering then there is a good chance it will inspire nausea. In the case of flying it will also inspire a racing pulse, breathlessness, fidgeting and sweaty palms. It’s not that I have an irrational fear of flying (well, not really) it’s just that I take no pleasure from spending hours in an uncomfortable enclosed space, traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, miles off of the ground in a tin can (see I’m completely rational).
This spring, in order to spend time with my gorgeous niece on her first birthday, I had to undertake my first unaccompanied flight. Prior to now I have always had friends, my husband and/or my children as travel companions to distract, entertain and soothe me. Knowing my travel weakness I prepared to endure the experience and counteract my bodies ‘fight or flight’ response with fiction. As a result I have spent the last couple of weeks considering the pros and cons of The Night Itself as an inanimate travel companion.
1. OCCUPYING A RESTLESS MIND
Having arrived at the airport earlier than the compulsory one hour prior to my flight, I settled down in a coffee shop with a large latte and my gorgeous ARC in the hope of occupying myself until it was time to board my flight. Zoe immediately grabbed my attention with Mio’s distinctive voice and the foreshadowing of trouble. Once captured, my attention was retained by the humorous dialogue, the realistic relationships, an action packed pacey plot, original world building and the compelling mystery of the Katana.
Unfortunately for me, I got a little too involved in the storyline and I missed the initial publication of my boarding gate number. This resulted in me having to run (an activity that does not come naturally) for my gate in order to make my flight.
2. COUNTERACTING MY URGE TO FIGHT, FREEZE OR FLEE.
Laughing, smirking, swooning
One way I’ve found to reduce my anxiety is through the experience of other emotions, I can’t panic if I’m laughing (unless it’s the nervous or hysterical variety of course!).
I identified with Mio’s distinctively British voice. Her humour, observations and turn of phrase, had me smirking along with her and I couldn’t help but love the banter between Mio and her feisty BFF Jack. In fact while I loved the action, the character development and the world building of The Night Itself, what I enjoyed the most were the relationships. Whether functional and supportive or estranged, established or developing, past or present, familial, platonic or romantic, it was the relationships, which grounded the story in realism, and elicited my emotional connection to the book.
Giggling like a loon in a public place;
Snorting with laughter,
Gasping, breath holding and squirming with tension,
and, crying snot bubble accompanied tears…
Whether you consider this to be a con, of course will all depend on how you feel about public displays of emotion.
3. DISTRACTING ME FROM MY IRRATIONAL FEAR.
Books not drugs!
I found The Night Itself to be the perfect distraction to my inflight anxieties. Having spent the duration of the flight sat next to a fellow reluctant flyer, who had resorted to prescription drugs to get her through the experience, I can say that the adventures of Mio and Co were much better at inducing calm than valium (ok so it’s not exactly the most scientific of tests, a randomized control trial it is not, but it worked for me).
Prior to reading The Night Itself, my knowledge of and exposure to Japanese culture was pretty much limited to sushi (pass the salmon sashimi). Zoe’s obvious passion for Japanese culture was contagious, and she presented the cultural references in such an non elitist way that instead of feeling intimidated by my lack of experience I found the topic refreshing, and I fascinatedly gobbling up every tit bit and reference. I have subsequently found myself Googling elements, like the Kitsune (fox spirits) to satisfy my newly inspired curiosity.
Nope, sorry I can’t see any cons for this one.
Verdict: I adored The Night Itself, the first book in Zoe Marriott’s London based urban fantasy trilogy, and I will be adding future installments to my travel essentials.
Reviewed by Caroline