It’s been a long few days since Mio stole the ancient, magical katana from her family’s attic. She and her friends have defeated the demonic Nekomata and banished the Goddess of Death’s plague-spreading Shikome. But at a terrible cost: Mio’s beloved Shinobu is lost to her, imprisoned again within the katana. With no time to succumb to guilt and grief, Mio must find a way to defeat the vengeful gods Izanagi and Izanami once and for all. Her only hope lies in the one place immortals can’t go: the realm of dreams, a shifting dimension of water and ice, echoes and memories, beauty and danger.
Frail Human Heart (The Name of the Blade #3)Featured
Hearts and the Red Thread that Connects Them
After The Name of the Blade and Darkness Hidden, Mio is back, and the threat to London is still dire. Monsters are roaming the streets, terrifying residents, and only Mio and her small group of friends know what's going on. Shinobu is gone, and Mio must rely on her father, Rachel, Jack, Hikaru and others to save London from the fight between Izanagi and Izanami. Along the way, Mio must travel under London into the sewer-like entrance to the land of dreams, and decide whether she wants to stay there in safety with Shinobu, or risk her own life to save her friends and family on their plane of existence. More of the history that she shares with Shinobu is revealed, explaining why the two warriors have such a strong bond.
The romance amidst the destruction will be appealing to readers. Mio's inexplicable connection to Shinobu is not treated lightly, and we do learn why it is such a compelling force in her life. There is an interesting interchange between Jack and Hikaru-- in his human for, the kitsune puts the moves on Jack, only to find out that she prefers women. This is not a problem for a shapeshifter, and Hikaru changes to a female form. The explanation of gender fluidity is matter-of-fact and handled well. There is a brief interlude when Mio and Shinobu share a moment that ends with Mio acquiring some grass stains, but there is nothing instructional that would prevent this from being appropriate for middle grade readers.
Mio is a strong but conflicted character who doubts her own strength but is ultimately able to summon it against the odds. I appreciated the fact that her parents both play a role in the book, and that she is both protective of them while wanting their approval and protection as well. Rachel gains power after her attack from a supernatural being in a previous book, and helps to save the day. Incidental characters like Mr. Ebisu add depth to both the mythology and the story in a satisfying way-- I want to hang out at Mr. Ebisu's book store!
Frail Human Heart is a brilliantly titled and satisfying conclusion to The Name of the Blade Trilogy that will have fans sighing with relieved contentment and waiting to see what Marriott will write next.