Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys, it’s Meaghan! I’m finally back with another review! I was in a bit of a reading slump for a little bit, with all the books I was trying to read just not being interesting! Finally, Risuko caught my attention, and I was finally able to finish a book again. My full review is below!

[I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley]

“Be swift as the wind, silent as the forest, fierce as fire, steady as a mountain.”
Stars (Out of 10): 7.5/10
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would! It wasn’t exactly what I excepted, as it was a bit different from the description made it seem. It also didn’t have a well-known plot, but it actually made sense in this book, as the main character didn’t know what was going on either! Overall, I liked the concept and how “historical” it felt, and it was a nice read.

The Good: I really loved Risuko and Kee Sun, and all the hidden lessons and morals the book had. I also liked how Risuko’s hatred of killing wasn’t too “obvious” in the book, and wasn’t made a bigger deal than it had to be. It seemed realistic as well, with her emotions and reactions matching up to what someone in her situation would realistically do. I also liked how most of the loose ends were tied up at the end, even though it’s a series. The
Bad: Risuko didn’t know what was going on at the school, so we didn’t know much either. In some cases this was a tad annoying, but not too bad. The plot was also sometimes hidden due to the above. I also felt it ended a bit abruptly.
The Characters: There was a great diversity of characters, with all their personalities meshing nicely together. I also enjoyed how no one problem “consumed” Risuko’s POV, such as Toumi’s hatred or Masugu and Meiko. She didn’t spend chapter after chapter on just one problem, but rather reflected on many things at once, which made the book more interesting to read, and less of the same.
The Plot: I won’t say this was the strong suit of the book, as there didn’t seem to be a main plot line, but rather multiple. However, this style did suit with the characters and writing, and the many plot lines didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book.
The World Building: There wasn’t much of this in the book, or not as much as I would’ve liked. We were told the bare minimum of what we needed to know, and while it was enough to understand the book, I wish there was a bit more background to all the events happening.
The Favorite Character: I really liked Risuko and Kee Sun!
Buy it, Borrow it, or Bin it: Buy it
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One thought on “Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

  1. Thanks, Meaghan! I’m glad that you enjoyed Risuko — and sorry you felt as if I didn’t invest enough in building the world of the book. This sort of thing is difficult to balance when it comes to fantasy or historical fiction, because the world of the book is so different from the reader’s — which is part of the pleasure of reading the book in the first place.

    I made the conscious choice not to explain the the world RIsuko lived in too much. Some of it was familiar to her, so it didn’t make sense to spend time pointing it out, and for the more unfamiliar parts, I wanted the reader to discover them as the point-of-view character did. And, of course, she was young, so there was a lot that I chose not to explain because she didn’t understand it at the time. Still, I can understand why you might have wanted more!


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