Book Review: Red Winter (Red Winter Trilogy) by Annette Marie

Red Winter  is the first book in the Red Winter Trilogy by Annette Marie. Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess, and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command, whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate, but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope  and hope is all she has left.

Red Winter  starts out slow, but once you get about a quarter of the way through the book it becomes much more engaging. While Emi is sheltered and a little naive- she is also smart and strong. I will admit to not liking her at all in the beginning, part of why I had a hard time getting into the story, but as the action kicked in she grew on me.  I liked that Katsuo is more than a protector- and acts as a friend and support in a variety of ways.  Shiro might be a late entry into the story, but his character is what really sets things into motion and makes the story come alive.  Then comes Yumei, making things more complicated and challenging for Emi. Once things start getting intense there are fantastic fight scenes, romance, and significant character growth. I loved the research that must have been done to achieve this level of accuracy about Japanese mythology and culture, and that there was wonderful artwork included.  The artwork is extremely well done, and captures the atmosphere and emotion of the book perfectly. 

Red Winter  is a book I thought I would adore, but had a hard time getting into. I am not sure if I was not in the right place to read it- or if it was something about the writing style. I tried a few times before forcing myself to stick with it, and I am glad I did. Once I got a good way into the story it took hold and I could not put it down. 
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