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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Together (The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-boy #3) by Claire Youmans

(The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-boy #3)
Claire Youmans
July 5, 2016
Source: from author for review
Azuki and Shota are finally home! Life in their corner of rural 19th Century Japan is nearly perfect – but Azuki’s sick. Shota defies his uncle to track down the legendary Crane-girl to help Azuki and impress the Dragon Princess. When Shota takes his beloved boat to deliver Azuki’s gorgeous work, he finds trouble – and not just among humans! The Dragons join forces with Azuki and Shota to repel a sea-monster’s challenge, but it’s Uncle Yuta who crafts a lasting peace.


Azuki, the Toki-Girl, and her brother Shota, the Sparrow-boy, are finally living peacefully at home with their Uncle Yuta. Azuki loves using her new loom to create gorgeous fabrics and Shota loves learning how to sail. But when Azuki becomes mysteriously ill, Shota sets out to find the legendary Crane-girl, in hopes that she can help. And there’s trouble brewing in the sea...the sea monster kind! With the help of their dragon friends and the Crane-girl, Azuki, Shota, and Yuta just might save the day.

Author, Claire Youmans, returns to her unique and enthralling The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-boy series with book three, Together. Once again, Youmans weaves an enchanting and entertaining tale full of history, magic, adventure, and lovable characters!

This series, which is part historical fiction and part fun fantasy, is set in the Meiji-era, or 19th century Japan. In Together, Youmans really immerses readers in this time-period and culture with excellent and strong world-building. Through the perspective of Azuki and Shota’s everyday lives, we get to experience the culture and time in-depth. Youmans explores every aspect of the Meiji-era, from the mentioned everyday life of its citizens to all the manners and customs, clothing, food, politics, social structures, and so much more. Young readers will feel transported and be fascinated by this obviously well researched and wonderfully presented world.

Most of my favorite characters from books one and two- Azuki, Shota, Renka, Yuta, the horses, and the Dragon King- are present in Together and they’re as engaging, exciting, and lovable as ever! Plus, we are introduced to some new, interesting characters and beings, like the mysterious Crane-girl and the cousin of the Kraken!

Readers will enjoy joining Azuki, Shota, and their friends on their unforgettable adventures in Together, and Youmans concludes book three with plenty of room for more fun adventures.

My final thoughts: With its excellent world-building, engaging characters, and fantastical elements, Together is a thoroughly enjoyable read and a great addition to a delightful series.

4/5 Cupcakes

Claire Youmans is an accomplished adult non-fiction and mystery writer who has also written and edited innumerable articles, engaging audiences for over 20 years. With a deep love for Japan and its culture, Claire has traveled there extensively studying the country’s culture and folklore. She worked as a creative consultant on the award-winning international feature film Journey to Mt. Fuji, produced by Sasanquafilms. She continues to consult for Sasanquafilms, which expects to begin production on a new film in 2014.

Claire has returned to the more complex world of novels, but now for a younger audience. While working on a play produced in Tokyo, The Great Grateful Jizo, Claire was so inspired by two minor characters -- Azuki, a Toki-Girl, and her brother, Shota, a Sparrow-Boy -- that she expanded their story into The Toki Girl and the Sparrow Boy. With generous doses of adventure, suspense, folklore and fantasy, Claire has brought their visually compelling story into book form.

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