Deadly Flowers and the Critics

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Ninjas, Press, Reviews | 0 comments

Deadly Flowers

Deadly Flowers

I’ve been so excited and happy about the reviews for Deadly Flowers. This review from the (*cough*notoriously picky*cough*) Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has my favorite adjective string of all time: “clever, vivacious, dangerous.” I’m going to get it put on a t-shirt.

Ninja-loving readers will rejoice at this clever, dangerous, vivacious book about a group rarely mentioned: girl ninja. Kata was orphaned as a young age, so all she knows as home is her place with Madame Chiyome (a real historical figure who trained young girls to be ninjas in the mid 1500s). She works willingly, eager to be offered her first mission so that all of her torturous, exhausting, dangerous training can be put to test. She’s stunned to realize, though, that her first job is an assassination, of a young boy no less; when she encounters the boy and his protective sister, she can’t go through with the deed, and she ultimately helps the kids escape and search for their uncle. The siblings are also protecting a pearl that has supernatural powers, while trying to evade other assassins, demons, ghostly beings, and vengeful family members. It’s a lot, but just as the descriptions and social settings start feeling a bit too dense, there’s a great fight scene or a creepy-cool mention of a double-mouthed woman or trickster spirit to change the tone and add excitement. An author’s note offers brief details about female ninjas and what is actually known about their history, as well as some additional details on Japanese ghosts and demons.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

I’m also quite fond of The Horn Book for saying that the book first goes “from bad to worse” and then “from worse to much worse.”

First-person narrator Kata–in training since childhood to be a “deadly flower,” a female ninja, in Feudal Japan–sneers at rich new girl Saiko. When Saiko is assigned to assist in Kata’s very first assassination, Kata is dismayed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when the target is revealed to be Saiko’s younger brother, and Kata instead finds herself caught up in a rescue mission. Then things go from worse to much worse; someone is hunting the siblings to steal the wish-granting pearl Ichiro has recently inherited. This action-packed adventure blends historical fiction with intriguing supernatural elements drawn from Japanese folklore. While Kata herself–determined, stoic, honor-bound–has a somewhat limited emotional range, Saiko turns out to have unexpected depth and even more surprising motivations. An author’s note adds historical and mythological context.
The Horn Book

Other reviewers have also chimed in:

“Nonstop action, interesting characters, and a journey into another time and culture.”

“This mission turns into a coming-of-age lesson for Kata that forces her to challenge herself while she learns about deception, trust and friendship. The story unfolds with many twists and turns that keep readers intrigued, including many frightening encounters with demons and ghosts pulled from Japanese folklore that range from spooky to outright terrifying. Kata struggles to survive and keep others around her safe. This book is a great combination of adventure, fantasy, and horror, with two strong heroines who form an unlikely alliance.”

School Library Journal


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