Fantasy epics are not hard to come by in the YA readerverse and the journey that Miuoko, the main character of A Thousand Steps Into Night, takes is reminiscent of quests we follow in the Shadow of the Fox series. However, if there is anything that makes Traci Chee a standout author for me—I’ve been a great fan of her work since completing The Reader series—it’s her ability to write compelling characters whose response to adversity helps the main character, and those around them, to challenge the status quo.
Awara is your basic patriarchal early century nation which maintains policies that keep independence for women limited, if not completely unavailable. Miuoko has spent her life taking her mother’s defiance of Awara’s rule and abandonment as lessons to be compliant with the rules and expectations forced upon her by her town. Without allowing herself to push against even the least of the red flags she has observed, Miuoko has become convinced that she can want nothing more in life than to take over the inn her father’s family has kept operating for generations by marrying a man of the serving class. That is, until she goes on a journey that she never would have imagined, one that takes her around the country of Awara to get rid of a curse that would keep her from ever living with her father again. Along the way she saves a spirit that becomes her companion, intrigues a prince who wants more than she may be willing to give, and makes people throughout the country question why they’ve accepted a life that oppresses much of their population. This path leads Miuoko to come to several realizations about what she needs to be happy and who she would like to spend time being happy with.
A Thousand Steps Into Night is a YA fantasy novel for those who can never have enough adventure. Pick up this book if you are in the mood for a lighthearted yet reflective romp that involves demons, friendly animal spirits, gods of nature and heavens, and the people in between.