Publish date- August 1st, 2015.
Publisher- ABC Books.
RRP- $16.99 (AUD)
(A Brief) Synopsis:
The story of a girl bought from her village in 19th century Japan to Edo, a city unlike anything she's ever dreamed of. And with more secrets than she can imagine.
Thank you to Harper Collins for this review copy!
Image source: Harper Collins.
What I thought:
The Peony Lantern reminded me of stories I read as a child. A strong, lively, outspoken heroine leads the story and you know, right from the off, that she's more than anyone has ever given her respect for. It reminde me of Jackie French, Anna Cidor and Carol Wilkinson.
And it was nice to be back in that sort of story, featuring an unfamiliar land in a time period I knew little about, and in general I did enjoy The Peony Lantern, if not, primarily, for the reasons I was supposed to. Kasumi's behaviour, unthinking, golly let's hate and then forever-more swoon wasn't particularly to my liking. For someone leaving her village to be a ladies maid, she also had a lot of choice and freedom, she felt represented as an equal in a way that, even with the friendship cultivated between her and her mistress, felt far too wide. I didn't feel like the limitations she felt were strong enough to be believable.
The plot moved along without really making it clear to me where it was going and what it's primary ARC was, so it didn't feel particularly strong- even if I was still able to plesantly enjoy it. The stakes were high-ish, but that didn't matter a great deal to me. Just being in a story that carried me along easily was really enjoyable and just what I needed, without even realising it.
It did have more issues, though. Insta-love that was hate for a handful of pages and resulted in dramatics I squinted at (the romance, too, was just too ooh here we are love love love for me to even attempt appreciating it); certain words were explained in a way that might have made it easier to comprehend for people who don't speak Japanese, but it made the pages, many a time, suffer as characters explained to those who should reasonably know that Kasumi is, you know, a ladies maid. With other words it got annoying and repetitive; the characters didn't elicit emotion from me. I just never got to caring for them.
The ending was the major disappointment. It felt like it came out of nowhere and wasn't really led up to, down from, throughly enough. And then- luck! for some characters and others not even revisited, not really, despite how important they had been.
It was enjoyable, despite a handful of irritations; not captivating or emotionally powerful, but enjoyable. The end, however, was not.