The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay

Thumper’s mother always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. However, as I’ve agreed to write a review for this book, that may be rather difficult and so with that in mind…

The Scarlet Kimono centres around seventeen year-old Hannah Marston whose biggest problems in life are that she’s ginger and a girl. Hannah naïvely decides to stow away on her brother’s ship headed for Japan, and then proceeds to makes a series of ever more dim-witted decisions that eventually lead her to be kidnapped by the daimyo (feudal lord), Taro Kumashiro. The rest of the book is non-stop, slightly disappointing, will-they-won’t-they storyline interspersed with scenes of mild peril and love.

Punch-ups with the protagonist

Now, although they aren’t my go-to type of book, I generally don’t mind romance novels. I was willing to give this book a go because the back cover intimated that it would also contain quite a lot of adventure (yay adventure!). Unfortunately, I don’t like adventure enough to read-past the fact that I just really didn’t like Hannah. This was an upsetting discovery, as I realised at only page 12 that this book probably wasn’t going to float my boat (to Japan). I found Hannah super frustrating for two reasons: 1) in some situations she is incredibly impulsive, to the point that she is a prime candidate for a Darwin award (although given this story is situated in 1611, maybe I should say a Baconian failure); 2) in some situations she is incredibly indecisive, to the point that I wanted to reach into the book, shake her shoulders, and scream, “GET A RUDDY GRIP HANNAH!”

Not my cup of tea

This is definitely a type of book where good-things-happen-to-good-people and bad-things-happen-to-bad-people. Maybe I am cynical, but I feel that if the worlds and characters created in books aren’t believable, even just a teeny bit, then I just cannot seem to invest myself into them. Every time there was a scene of peril or love, the fact that the outcome was predictable left me feeling more than a little flat. Oh and in addition, it was super irritating that the chapters were presented as interwoven Hannah-Taro-Hannah-Taro (etcetera) chapters, until more than a third of the way into the book… this made it even more difficult for my brain to get on side. I know that there will be some people who read this book and enjoy it, but disappointingly for you reading this review I am just not one of them.

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