The Twelve Kingdoms:
Yoko has been having unsettling dreams. But she shakes them off and goes to her private high school classes. She falls asleep in class, has a continuation of the dreams, and wakes up in trouble. When sent to the office, a gold maned man appears and binds her with some sort of oath. Keiki, the golden man, takes Yoko on a trip to escape the demons chasing them. She has to get out of the school before anyone else is hurt. Outside Yoko is joined by an internal warrior and given a sword. After she fights off an impossible creature Keiki sends her on a wild ride through the reflection of the moon.
Yoko enters a new world in the midst of a monstrous storm. She is alone - Keiki has disappeared. She stumbles to a village and is taken prisoner. She is kaikyaku - a stranger from a distant land, brought to the Twelve Kingdoms by magic. She must be turned in to the authorities. But there are animal demons chasing Yoko. The demons kill the people holding her before she is able to escape.
As Yoko learns more about Kou, the land where she is now, she learns she cannot trust anyone but herself. She transforms from the quiet good girl who had to please everyone to a warrior, keeping herself alive. She has a magic sword and an internal warrior. Will they be enough? Why is she in Kou? Where can she go to be safe? How can she return home to Japan? The biggest question is - what is her purpose in this land of the Twelve Kingdoms?
When I received this advance review copy I wasn't sure if I would like the novel. I knew it is young adult before it came but I didn't know it is part of the manga line of literature - Japanese anime literature. The artwork throughout the book is anime style. Then I started reading. I was pulled into Yoko's story. I was pulled into the land and the hardships she faced.
This is an easy fascinating read. I was quickly able to identify with Yoko and her surroundings. This book should please any fantasy lover. It is full of fights, survival, and personal triumph. Yoko finds both peril and friends in unexpected places. I enjoyed the book so much that I scanned the bookshelves at Borders for the series the next time I was in the store. I later learned it doesn't come out until March, 2007. I hope I'll see more of Fuyumi Ono's Twelve Kingdoms.
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