What happens when you give me a book with Japanese feudal culture, steampunk, and an awesome griffin? Well…I start fangirling all over the place and my boyfriend ends up knowing every aspect of the book without ever having to touch it. I was utterly addicted to this story and I hated that it had to end. I was blown away with how strong of a book this was, considering this is Kristoff’s debut.The story feels completely unique thanks to it’s Japanese setting as well as the use of actual Japanese language. I love Japanese culture so this was absolutely perfect for me. It’s a wonderful alternate Feudal Era where there are still shoguns and samurai, but there is also a wonderful steampunk aspect though it’s far more grungy and poisonous than any other steampunk tech I’ve seen before. I found the use of the Japanese language to be an awesome addition and adds to the authentic feel, it helps to submerse you in their way of life. I will say that the language usage may be a problem for some, but Kristoff does a pretty good job of making sure you understand what it is before moving on and if there is something you still don’t quite get there is a glossary in the back. If awesome Japanese culture and steampunk isn’t enough then I’m positive the Yokai, demons and intrigue will be. The writing is so detailed that everything comes to life without much effort; I could see the city and the black polluted waters, and I could smell the oil and chi smoke. I loved the usage of the Red Lotus and how it’s affected everyone and how invested the entire country is on maintaining it’s growth.The characters are just as wonderful as the setting and just as detailed. Yukiko is a strong young woman who can hold her own and possesses the ability to speak and connect with animals. It’s a fantastic gift that could get her killed, and so she spends a good deal of her life hiding it. Her past is revealed in a rather raw way and the way she grows into a true leader is admirable. Baruu is a type of Yokai named Arashitori or Thundertiger, which is basically a griffin with a bit more ‘umpf’ and a cool connection to thunderstorms. He is such a strong character and even though he doesn’t have very much to say he leaves an impression, and because of that he’s one of my favorite characters. The way he and Yukiko connect is both unique and rather touching, and I’m completely jealous that she gets to share thoughts with such an amazing creature. The Guild as a whole really freaked me out, mainly because of their metal suits and mindset regarding those with gifts. I could tell immediately that they were up to no good, and as I continued the feeling got worse until the proof was given and I ended up with chills.Overall this is a book worth reading, and it’s definitely one of my favorites for the year. I’m so excited for everyone else to read it and I can’t wait for the next book.I received this from Thomas Dunne Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.