Book Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Good morning and happy publication day to Kylie Lee Baker!!! This is my most anticipated release of the entire year and I had the immense privilege to be able to read it early. Never has a book made me feel more seen than this book right here. I get pretty emotional in this review, so I hope you all enjoy. Please know that I was literally tearing up writing this because it all came from the heart! Enjoy!

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Title: The Keeper of Night
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication date: October 12, 2021
Genre: Historical fantasy, mythology

A compelling and riveting debut unapologetically exploring biracial identity in the darkest places

At a glance: Half Reaper and half Shinigami, Ren has always kept a part of herself hidden for her safety in the land of Reapers. When she lets her Shinigami power show in self defense, she knows the only place to run is to Japan and the land of the Shinigami.

  • πŸ’€ Dark Content
  • 😭 Emotional
  • 🌏 Biracial Asian Rep
  • πŸ‘» Supernatural

Read this if… you love dark fantasy, fantasy that is steeped in folklore and myth, you love atmospheric books, you love creepy books or loyal siblings.

Diversity Representation: Ownvoices biracial protagonist

Content Warnings: racism, death, gore, violence, bullying

Book Review

Brilliant, stunning, validating, emotional, dark, atmospheric, magical, creepy

The Keeper of Night is my most anticipated book of 2021. I’ve been waiting to read it since long before the cover was revealed. Ever since I heard that there was biracial Asian representation that actually delves into the intricacies of biracial experience, I’ve been holding this title close to my heart, knowing that it would be stunning. When I first picked this up I immediately started crying because I felt like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this book. And I have. The way that Ren didn’t feel accepted in England with the Reapers, even though she is half Reaper. The way everyone around her only focused on her otherness felt all too close to home and something that I’ve never felt in a book before. I found myself needing to take breaks in order to savor this book to take in the beauty and representation. I can tell you truly that I have never felt more seen while reading a book.

The Keeper of Night is about an angry biracial half Reaper and half Shinigami, Ren. Inheriting the powers of both sides, she spent her whole life not being accepted as a Reaper and hiding her Shinigami side as much as she could to fit in. When she accidentally lets her Shinigami power show, in self defense, she knows she has to run away to stay safe. Being told she is only a Shinigami her whole life, she knows the only place to run to is Japan, only to find out that fitting into a country you’ve never been to isn’t as easy as anticipated.

Being biracial is such a complicated experience. Growing up I genuinely did not think anyone experienced any of the same feelings as I did. I was constantly told that I was Asian but at the same time told that I wouldn’t be accepted in Vietnam either because I was white. Being in America and growing up with my white family, I didn’t feel like I was even allowed to explore my Asian side and it always felt like a piece of me was missing. It is like growing up on an island. It is so often feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere because both sides see you as the “other.” It is grasping desperately at whatever you can to not feel so alone. The Keeper of Night captures it all so perfectly.

(Spoilers warning) I knew that when Ren got to Japan that everyone would call her a foreigner or tell her she didn’t belong, but I cried about it anyway. I knew that she would grow distant from Naven in desperate attempt to grow closer to the piece of her heritage that hadn’t actively rejected her yet. And again I cried about it anyway. I knew that Ren would make mistakes and be completely blinded by her need to find a home and again, but I cried about it anyway. This is honestly one of the most validating books I have read in my entire life. This is the exact book that I so desperately needed as a kid and teen to understand that I was not alone, that my experience was not as unique as I used to think. I don’t think I can begin to explain how immensely comforted I am that this book exists for kids like me, so all I can truly say is a big heartfelt thank you to Kylie Lee Baker.

Summing it all up

The Keeper of Night is the exact book I desperately needed as a teen to help me realize that I was not alone. I am not joking when I tell you that this is the most validating book that I have ever read. I am so happy that it exists and I wish everyone would read it. It is phenomenal.

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About the Author

Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her work is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, & Irish) as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a BA in creative writing and Spanish from Emory University and is pursuing a master of library and information science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she plays the cello, watches horror movies, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

Let’s chat!

πŸ’€ Are you excited for The Keeper of Night?
πŸ’€ Have you read any other books with Reapers or Shinigami?!

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar dark and spooky vibes:

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Absolutely need to read THE KEEPER OF NIGHT after this review!

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*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*