The Empress of Time (The Keeper of Night #2) by Kylie Lee Baker #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England—she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But her problems have never been greater. Her Shinigami see her as a foreigner on the throne. Her brother, Neven, is gone, lost in the deep darkness. And her fiancé, Hiro, has been killed by her own hand.

Then Ren receives the most troubling news yet—Reapers have been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.

Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll help Ren only if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago—an impossible demand.

Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his brother Hiro, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her into the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust—and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance.

With it’s dark storyline and morally gray main character, I became an instant fan of the first book in this duology. The shocking ending left me anxious to see what the future held for these characters.

This sequel begins ten years after the first book, and I admit the time gap surprised me. Ren is now the Goddess of Death, a position you’d think comes with a healthy dose of authority and fear – not so in this case. Ren’s history includes being abandoned by her father, rejected by her British peers, and bullied by her fellow reapers, and now even her own Shinigami don’t respect her. She finally has the power of a goddess and still has to constantly prove herself. When she learns that an old nemesis/bully, who is now in a position of power, is coming to claim her revenge, Ren knows allies are needed if she hopes to survive. Her journey to find them turns into a quest, and I easily fell into this immersive story filled with Japanese mythology.

With the Goddess of Death as a main character your expectations of this novel should surely include death. And there’s quite a bit of it that’s bloody, brutal, and gory – but it’s not done for shock value. It goes along with this harsh world and all the challenges Ren faces. She encounters other powerful gods and goddesses in her quest, and also deals with an unexpected traitor that surprised me. Moon God Tsukuyomi is a welcome addition to the story and quickly became one of my favorite characters. The Empress of Time is a solid conclusion to this dark, gritty duology, and I enjoyed every page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.