Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 31, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
Sakuma has served as a Valkyrie for centuries, smoothly escorting thousands of souls to the grand halls of Valhalla. While the world tears itself apart during WWII, he is summoned to retrieve the soul of a fallen Japanese soldier, Ishii Hiroshi. To Sakuma’s surprise, Ishii refuses his invitation to eternity.
The two meet again and again as the war repeatedly sends Ishii to death’s door, and what should have been a fleeting encounter becomes something much greater for the both of them.
Sakuma is determined to give Ishii the reward he so deserves, but Ishii’s stubbornness may condemn him to an eternity outside Valhalla.
SEXUALITY: homosexual, pansexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic, panromantic
TROPES: human x immortal
TAGS: adult, historical, mythology, fantasy, romance, queer romance, queer characters, Japanese character, military personnel
WARNINGS: war, violence, death, ableism, physical injury
Sakuma had thought he’d seen true beauty. He thought he’d seen everything glorious when he first saw the expanses of the universe. But when he looked at the cosmic-bright smile of Ishii Hiroshi, he realized he’d been wrong.
This novella is a romance between an immortal Valkyrie (Sakuma) and a Japanese soldier (Ishii) during WWI and it was a really sweet but intense story as the two get to know each other and fall for each other, while Ishii becomes increasingly conflicted over fighting in the war and for a leader he’s no longer sure he believes in. The relationship that develops between the two is tumultuous in that Sakuma (mostly) shows up when Ishii is near death, but their banter and snark is so fun from the get-go, and it was lovely to see them start to crave seeing each other outside of violent near-ends for Ishii. And while the story was short due to the novella format, I was content with the way the relationship played out and how they ended up together in the end.
Also, I really liked the play on Valkyrie mythology, because I love Valkyrie and there’s just not nearly enough books featuring them. I liked how it was explained that more Valkyrie needed to be created when wars became more frequent and more violent and how other genders were allowed to become Valkyrie as a result. The only issue I had was that I would’ve liked to see Ashton’s version of Valkyrie mythology in more detail, and that could’ve been fixed by making the book longer. Ultimately, though, I was happily with what was there.
The one thing I was hesitant about was that both main characters are Japanese when the author is white, as far as I’m aware. From what I could tell, there wasn’t anything offensive, but I, of course, could have missed some nuance that a Japanese reader wouldn’t. All in all, though, really the only things that marked Sakuma and Ishii as Asian was their names, mentions of reading kanji, and being located on the island of Japan–they could’ve easily been white.
L.A. Ashton is an LGBT+ author writing LGBT+ fiction. They enjoy rock music, traveling, and anything else that adds color to their daydreams. They believe in the healing properties of art and of having a cat firmly stationed on one’s lap. Their official site can be found at www.LAAshton.com.