When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.
The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.
The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.
Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.
With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.
Ah, another trilogy full review! And this was one incredible trilogy! You know how some, especially the middle book, can feel like filler? That was not the case here, every page seemed to have a point, even if the point was to make the reader giggle or some down time for the protagonist.
Amazingly simple thing, accidentally unlocking the sword's power - the trouble was stuffing it back in! When Mio unleashes an ancient and dark battle for power, she takes it one step at a time to figure out a way to stop the world from ending. She and the gang were fighting demons on the London streets, trying to cure a deadly plague from one touch of a demonic feather, and stop the ancient gods of Japan. To succeed, Mio has to sacrifice too much; the boy she loves, the safety of her family and sometimes her mind. It was all a little complicated but I adored the mixture of old Japanese traditions and battling them on new streets.
Mio was damn adorable. Only half aware of her heritage, she was easy to relate to with her parent troubles, a mental best friend, and of course her reaction to everything when it hit the fan: to try not to cry! Even when the katana was trying to possess her, Mio kept her head... mostly. Yeah, she was totally winging it, but she had that inner strength to help her through, and the support of her friends, and later, parents.
Speaking of, Marriott gave us some amazing characters - the best friend and upstairs neighbour Jack, goth girl extraordinaire; Shinobu, the boy who should't exist; and Hikaru, magical fox boy with extra charm. Then of course things get a little complicated, like Mio and Shinobu are even more intertwined than previously thought and Hikaru might actually be perfect for Jack after all!
I loved this series. I took a bit of a gamble, buying all 3 books without knowing hardly anything about them, but I got an amazing urban fantasy with kick-ass and witty characters and a well paced and thought-out story line. Highly recommended.