Thursday, April 20, 2006

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

I picked up this book based on a recommendation at Bookseller Chick's blog. It sounded like something Megan would enjoy, but since some of the reviews I found online made reference to "sexual" content, I decided I'd better read it first to make sure it was appropriate for her. I had no idea I was about to get sucked into such a spellbinding book!

Across the Nightingale Floor is a fascinating novel set in a sort of alternate feudal-era Japan. The main characters are Takeo, a 15-year-old orphan from a remote mountain village who is taken in by a wealthy lord and becomes embroiled in the political warfare of the local feuding clans, and Kaede, also 15, a young woman who, due to her noble birth, is a pawn in the increasingly dangerous sparring between several warlords who don't seem to have her best interests at heart. All the elements of the best young adult fiction are here: events in this book move forward swiftly, the two main characters are appealing and heroic, and the novel is a satisfying read. This was one of those books that left me feeling bereft after I finished it. I can't figure out what to do with myself now, and I feel strongly convinced that nothing else other than the next book in this series would satisfy my reading needs. I'm almost tempted to skip the meeting I had planned to attend tonight and go to the library to pick up book two in this trilogy, Grass for his Pillow.

As far as the sexual content goes, it was nothing that Megan couldn't handle, particularly given the "older youth audience" anime that she likes to watch. I was relieved to find this, because it would have been such a shame to miss out on the indescribable pleasure of sharing a book you loved with your child and being able to discuss it at great length later. As it happens, she finished her current novel while I was working on the final chapter of this one (she's working her way through Brian Jacques's Redwall series at the moment) and happened to be sitting around trying to figure out what to do with her reading time. I was very happy to be able to march over to where she was sitting, hand this book to her and instruct her to read it.

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