Reviewed by: Nicole DeVincentis
Cover/Title: The cover is absolutely beautiful. I might be a little biased because I love martial arts, but her solemnly looking down with the sword (I believe it’s a katana, right?), and the foggy outline is so captivating. The tint of blue draws the reader’s eye right to the girl, and I love how she’s also shaded in bluish hues. The colors clash perfectly and it’s exactly what you need to reign the reader in. My only suggestion might be to make the font for your name and the title a little smaller. The girl and the mist are so attention-grabbing, but I feel like the title sort of takes away from them. It covers a lot, so bringing it down one or two pegs might have her stand out more. I see the story has won several awards, congratulations on those! The title definitely beckons the reader to the story, and coupled with the sword and the pose it absolutely raises questions and teases our curiosity.
Summary/Synopsis: So intriguing! I can tell you know your story and you only give us a few details to lure us in. Sometimes, I feel like writers tend to write their synopses when their stories are still incomplete. While they’re written well, it’s either not enough to pique our interest, or reading feels pointless, because the majority of the plot given away. This synopsis is full of just the right context and gives an accurate depiction of the novel, while enticing the reader and leaving us itching to dive in.
Grammar/Structure: I found few mistakes with grammar, but there are some inconsistencies. For example, in the sentence “blood poured from a nasty gash on his brow smeared his face,” there is either an “and” missing after “brow,” or “smeared” should be “smearing.” This seemed to appear a few times throughout the story, so I recommend a quick read-through. Also, the formal language sort of takes us away from the story. Normally we read like we talk and we use contractions, so any time any of the characters use “I will” or “as” it momentarily throws us out of the story. For Honda, it seems a little more fitting, because he feels very old-fashioned and traditional. But Lana seems like she’s a millennial or close to it, so that formal language doesn’t sit quite as well. Also on that note, we read “I will” a lot, and I think it would be helpful if you went through and highlighted each time you used those words together so you can see how often they’re used.
Punctuation: The oxford comma seems to be included in some sentences and excluded from others. Chicago style generally uses the oxford comma but, more importantly, writers should remain consistent. Also, coordinate adjectives should have a comma between them, (e.g. dark, honey-blonde). Besides these, punctuation was accurate and consistent throughout the novel.
Vocabulary/Description: The author demonstrates quite an extensive vocabulary, and it’s refreshing to read words such as vitriolic (malicious) and megalomaniac (egotist) rather than more common adjectives like spiteful and narcissistic. As far as adjectives go, the reader utilizes them expertly in describing the scenery, the characters’ moods, and the atmosphere, creating vivid depictions to engulf the reader. I cannot begin to describe how important it is to make the reader feel like they’re in the story through sensory detail and visual depiction. The author has mastered this technique, and has structured their vocabulary with such precision and style, they leave the audience captivated with each line.
Pace/Character Development: The pacing of the story is excellent and I found no issues with that. Characters are well-rounded and fleshed out. So much so, that even with multiple characters in one scene, dialogue feels natural even without tags at the end of each line. Lana’s fiery temper is evident in her every thought and her “no nonsense” attitude and tendency to challenge authority is what defines her. Based on the title and synopsis, we find ourselves wondering what challenges she’ll face and how she’ll overcome them. Honda is much more complex, but his principles are firm and to the point: respect me, and remember your place. Despite his ostentatious show of authority, he wants Lana to challenge him. He keeps readers bemused, and we never know what to expect. His wife, Yuki, has a rather interesting relationship with Lana, acting like a mother half the time, and as a temptress the rest of the time. But her persona is oddly soothing to readers; we know we have nothing extreme (as far as limitations go) to expect in their scenes together. It’s very different from Honda’s demanding sexual escapades and we almost take a relaxing breath every time we begin a scene with her in it. Finally, I love the sisterly dynamic between Lana and Gabriella. It rounds out Lana’s character and makes her relatable to have someone to confide in besides Yuki.
What I Liked Most: I absolutely love the opening with Lana and her boss. Starting a story in the middle of an argument is an awesome way to reel the reader in. We don’t have time to think and our attention is instantly caught up in the storyline. Before we know it, we’re devouring each page, utterly fascinated. What I really liked most was the protagonist’s personality. Lana’s sharp tongue and tendency to flare up at the slightest challenge had me relating to her from the start. Her combative nature engages us and tells us she won’t back down, especially when it comes to Honda. He is a sensei; a teacher above all and he pushes her limits, physically, sexually, and emotionally. Despite his harsh methods, his affection and consideration for Lana is evident in his mannerisms.
Concluding Thoughts: This story is really straightforward and descriptive. It’s easy to feel like we’re in Lana’s shoes, and the author does a phenomenal job at personifying the characters. The expert use of descriptive language is what makes the story so colorful, and the author has a way of being very clear and even more lively with each chapter.