A Mortal Sword
by Megan Crewe
Kindle edition, 382 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Another World Press
Sora’s life was full of magic–until she discovered it was all a lie.
Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.
Sora has lived her whole life as the kami princess in Mount Fuji. But when an unexpected attack happened and a great prophecy involving a kami princess must be fulfilled, she found out that her whole life is a lie. She’s not a kami and she’s definitely not the chosen one to beat the darkness, she’s just a decoy to keep the real kami princess safe. Can she confront her feelings, her newfound human limitations, and work together to defeat the darkness and soothes Mt. Fuji before it spills it angers to Japan?
This is a really interesting book. First of all, our main character, Sora, is not the chosen one! She’s not a kami, she’s just a human. She has no power, her power is only borrowed from Mt. Fuji. Some people might be relieved to not having to save the world, or even being too angry to want to save it in the first place (I mean, you just found out your life is a lie and you’re a decoy to be killed instead of the real princess!), but that’s not the case for Sora. She has strong ties with the Kami of Mt. Fuji, the mountain itself, and her fake parents. Sure, she felt betrayed and jealous, but she never let all of those negative emotions get in the way or slowing down their mission of saving Mt. Fuji.
Second, I really like how this book is reflecting on mortality. At first, Sora hates being human, which is understandable. When you are used to have magic at your aid to heal you, hide you, and protect you, it’s hard to adjust to human limitations. But this book shines the beauty of being human through 2 of the group mortal companions, Keiji and Haru. After spending time with both of them and reflecting on human-ness, Sora realizes being human isn’t bad at all, and the readers got to experience the journey and realization together with Sora. How many times do we wish we have magic to aid us in real life? How many times do we wish of having super powers? By comparing Sora’s kami and human experience, this book will make you realize that our human limitations and mortality has its benefits compared to all the benefits power can give us.
I’m not a Japanese, so I don’t know if the Japanese culture in this book were represented correctly (please let me know!), but of those aspects I know, it was represented correctly. They are pretty family oriented, grades are important as measurement of student’s success and what I know of kami is also correctly written. There are some holes of course, but I will get to that later.
Now, for the negatives. My biggest complain is I really wish this book was longer, or maybe become a duology. While the story only happens in short time span (6 days), there are a lot revelations, attacks, and deaths that could use a lot more pages to develop and transition the plot, as well as giving more punch in terms of feelings. The whole thing seemed underdeveloped and rushed, jumping from one plot, attacks, and feelings to another quickly. Some important points are only discussed within 1-2 pages before moving on to the next thing. A duology would work perfectly for me to expand a bit of the story.
Another thing is the romance. As the story is moving so fast with a lot of things to pay attention to, I never felt any attachment to the characters. And I think it reflects to how I feel with the romance. It felt so unecessary and fell flat for me. Most of the times, the romance only serves as plot points in this book. If the story is more developed, maybe, just maybe, I will feel more connection to the romance. But at this point, I feel nothing and I wish they are just a group of 3 teens 2 kami try to save the world.
A Mortal Song is an interesting book with Chosen One trope twist. It also have deeper meaning by reflecting in human limitations, and pretty spot on (from what I know) of Japanese culture. But with so many actions, revelations and plot happening, this book doesn’t have enough space to expand the stories, thus it felt underdeveloped. I never felt any attachment to the characters, and the ending is also very anticlimatic. But, if you’re looking for book with good Japanese culture representation and a quick read, this book is for you.