I read this in 6 hours. Then again. D.E.V.O.T.E.D.A warm and lovely thanks to St Martin's Griffin (Thomas Dunne Books)/Macmillan US for sending a floppy ARC all the way to Australia for me to devour, and also thanks to Jay for getting me one!A breakdown of the moments after I received a package from Macmillan US containing Kinslayer:Mum: Braiden, can you put the clothes on the line? Empty the dishwasher? Vacuum the floor? Clean the bench?Me:Mum: All right. I’m off. Love you.Me: (pretend the cat is the package with Kinslayer)[Mum leaves; I hear the door slam; I hear silence]Me:*spends the rest of the day reading; no cleaning *• • •Jay Kristoff’s second book in The Lotus War, Kinslayer, is a rush of pure vertigo, a sensation so incredible I’d only ever want to experience it in the world that Yukiko and Buruu inhabits, the Shima Isles, of monstrous beasts and impressive beauty, majestic in every way despite the lotus fumes that saturate the air. With his signature prose, elegant and descriptive, and an extended cast of characters to follow and learn about, to love and to hate, as well as the beginnings of an all-out war, Kristoff has here a sequel that you’ll wish you had read it slower, breathed in every word and every moment that lingered on every page.Skin was strong.Flesh was weak.Although it was great to follow the lives of a few extra characters, more characters than we did in Stormdancer, it felt as though the multiple perspectives and individual arcs and plot lines burdened the pacing of the story being told. With Yukiko journeying north to the Iishi Mountains to discover more about what it was to be a “Stormdancer” and Buruu’s “nature calls” plot simultaneously playing out – so that we as the reader are able to experience more of the Shima Isles and the world, a majestic adventure into new regions of this Empire unexplored – it hindered the excitement of the battle descending on Kigen City. Despite this hinderance, I was delighted in the warfare, which came from every direction possible. And that is all that really matters. This was my only negative.(Note: I read Kinslayer a second time following the first in which I sped through the book in a matter of hours. I read each character and their chapters individually (i.e., Yukiko’s chapters, then Kin’s, then Hiro’s, then Hana’s, etc.) as opposed to how the book was written, fragmented throughout the novel. By doing this, it gave me a greater appreciation of character breakdown and development, as well as the awareness of how difficult it must be weaving multiple story lines and character arcs in 400+ pages. My review was originally 4.5, but then because of this second read it went up to 5.)There is power in words.There are words that bid us laugh and make us weep. Words to begin with and words to end by. Words that seize the hearts in our chests and squeeze them tight, that set the skin on our bones to tingling. Words so beautiful they shape us, forever change us, live inside us for as long as we have breath to speak them. There are forgotten words. Killing words. Great and frightening and terrible words. There are True words.And then there are pictures.Yukiko’s and Buruu’s storyline wherein they ventured north doesn’t aid the plot in any way – other than just being absent from the war between the rebellious Kage and the Lotus Guild and their allied clans at Kigen city – but it adds to the vibrancy and expansion of the world. We meet new arashitora(s), enter the sea dragons’ domain, and even encounter gaijin (Polish from the looks of it – how Kristoff incorporated foreigners in any form into this world, I have no idea). Along this journey Yukiko learns how to control and use her Kenning more widely, in addition to getting a whole lot of surprises along the way – the surprise at the very end will either have you shaking your head at the detestation of such a surprise or shaking your head because you had absolutely no idea throughout the whole book and was amazed Kristoff could keep you in the dark for so long without seeing the light.The new major character we follow is Hana, also known as No Name. A beautiful girl with a strong heart and a wretched past, a girl so captivated by Yukiko’s plight against the tyranny of the Shima Imperium and the Lotus Guild that she wants to join in too, to see the Empire fall. Hana’s story will capture your heart, just as much as Yukiko had done in Stormdancer. To be honest, I’m completely infatuated with Kristoff for the way he revealed Hana’s past, and how he was able to keep me on my toes, keep me trying to make sense of it in those flashbacks, fragments of a memory twisted and pulled, perceived one way by Hana and perceived another way by her brother Yoshi, a different perspective. Tip: Hana can Ken with her cat Daken, as can Yoshi.Michi, Ichizo, Ayane, Kin, Aisha. I prayed hard for these characters. HARD, I tell you! Some of them found happiness, while others met their end heartrendingly, and the remaining characters, well, I hadn’t expected the paths they took, with one in particular I’m eager to find out more and follow in the third book, sadly not out until 2014. And then there was Hiro, who I now despise with a passion. His treachery at the end of Stormdancer is one I will remember for a long time, but his fascist attitude throughout Kinslayer, his corrupted and power-hungry mind, I will not only remember but will be haunted too until I read his unpublished death scene in the next book. Maybe gobbled up by Buruu. I can see that.And there was Red. RED! More please, woof!An impressive story by an equally impressive person. What’s next, Arashitora babies? More strong and independent women? Kristoff knows how to please, and I have a feeling the third book will do more than just please – it will kill.