I’m gonna be straight up with you, OK? Because I respect you, and I don’t want you to waste your time. If you don’t like,
or E. Fun
you probably won’t like Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. But honestly, even if you don’t like steampunk…there’s still a REALLY good chance that you will love Stormdancer.
One girl and a griffin against an empire.
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun’s crimes, both against her country and her family.
Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
As I said, this book leans heavily on what are typically seen as steampunk tropes. I mean it’s got them all; goggles, airships, industrialization, chainsaw katana…
Ok, so it’s safer to say that it takes those tropes as a jumping off point, as the rest of the book is full of both original ideas and riffs on classic steampunk tropes.