Review: Year of the Demon by Steve Bein (Fated Blades #2)

September 28, 2013 Review 0

Review: Year of the Demon by Steve Bein (Fated Blades #2)Year of the Demon by Steve Bein
Series: Fated Blades #2
Published by Roc on October 1st, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher
Sexual Content: References to sex.
4 Stars

A MASK OF DESTRUCTION

Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....

Steve Bein's DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD felt like a book James Clavell might have written if he had ever turned his hand to urban fantasy. That's some of the highest praise I can give a book because Clavell's Asian Saga is easily my favorite series of all time. Bein's mix of police procedural, historical novel and just enough magic to make it actually seem plausible had me hoping for more of the same when I started YEAR OF THE DEMON.

Bein's second book in the Fated Blades series is set a few months after the events of the first. Police officer Oshiro Mariko finally has her promotion to the Narcotics unit. She's the only woman to ever make the rank of detective sergeant in Tokyo's most elite police unit. Because of this she's still fighting for the respect of her peers, but things are at least settling down to some semblance of normalcy. Of course this would be a pretty boring book if that stayed the case.

The book starts off quickly with Mariko and the rest of her team executing a drug raid. In the aftermath of the raid an ancient mask gets stolen. What seems like an ordinary missing bit of evidence quickly becomes more when its Yakuza owner demands that Mariko retrieve it. Interspersed in the novel we have the stories of a 16th-century lord and previous wielder of Mariko's sword, and a 15th-century one-armed pearl diver.

I really enjoyed this book. It has the usual middle novel issues in that a lot of the events seem to do nothing other than set things up for the third, but just like the first YEAR OF THE DEMON moves along at a brisk pace.

Since I'm writing this review for All Things Urban Fantasy I almost feel as if I should warn folks that this is very much not your typical urban fantasy. The magic in this world is ancient and subtle and very much not front and center like most novels of the genre. I hope that doesn't scare off curious readers because that is very much a good thing. In a field that lends itself so often to copycat rehash novels of whatever trope is currently popular it is fantastic to find a novel that doesn't use any of them.

Part thriller, part police procedural, part historical and part urban fantasy, YEAR OF THE DEMON is simply a book for people who like to read. It has something for everyone and Bein does an amazing job weaving them all together into a fascinating story.

Series Titles:

Daughter of the Sword

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