Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review: Spirit's Chosen by Esther Friesner

Spirit's Chosen is historical adventure/fantasy at it's best. Himiko is one of the strongest and faithful heroines I've ever experienced in YA fiction.

Himiko returns to her village with her friend, Kaya, to find it decimated by an attack from a distant clan called the Ookami. The setting is ancient Japan, and each clan is ruled by a chieftain and the religious leader, the shaman. Himiko is the daughter of the chieftain of the Matsu, but her father, as well as two brothers, have been killed in the battle. Her mother is incapacitated by the loss of her family, in particular, Himiko's little brother who was captured by the Ookami. Himiko decides to find the Ookami and bring her brother back to her mother. Kaya insists on travelling with her.

Himiko is a shaman and had a special bond with the spirit world. When she and Kaya face insurmountable troubles, Himiko's strength is the only thing that will save them. Himiko will capture your heart. She faces her fears without hesitation. She is extremely loyal to her friend, her family, and eventually the love of her life. Her reliance on the spirits that speak to her is admirable.

My only complaint about Spirit's Chosen is the length and level of detail. It's about 100 pages into the book before they leave on their journey to the Ookami. I felt the build up to this journey was slow. Also, there were so many details that didn't add to the story. For example, we are told that Himiko has a crippled leg and limps. This is only mentioned about 4 times in the story, and didn't have any impact. I didn't see why it was necessary -- if it was a hardship for her, it should have had more impact on her travels. Otherwise, leave it out. At almost 500 pages, this is a long book. I think that will keep some teens away that might have really enjoyed Himiko's story, had it been a little pared down.

The ending contains tragedy, but also hopefulness and I felt satisfied. Spirit's Chosen is part of a series of books by Friesner called Princesses of Myth. Each book is about a different ancient princess, and there are several of them available.

Published by Random House, April 23, 2013
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection
475 pages

Rating: 4/5

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