I am getting so lucky with random book finds lately. A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee is yet another gem I unintentionally found while going about my life. I don’t know anyone that is talking about this book, and I hope this review inspires you to check out this fabulous story.
Miuko is too loud, too clumsy, and too adventurous for a girl of Awara. She may shame the inhabitants of her forgotten village, but Miuko is beloved by her father and they work together to run the village’s inn. When Miuko encounters a demon and becomes cursed, she is forced to flee her ill-fitting life. A magpie spirit agrees to help Miuko on her quest to find a cure, and the pair begin a perilous journey filled with the spirits and gods of Awara. While battling her transition into a demon, Miuko attracts the attention of a demon prince who wants her to give in to her new, powerful self. Miuko must decide who she is in a world that never made a place for her to begin with, and her choice could affect the future of Awara.
A Thousand Steps into Night is a great adventure through and through. The world Chee created is so vibrant and filled with amazing lore and characters. I can’t think of a point where the story lulled because Miuko is constantly whisked to new adventures and meets a new, eclectic group of characters at each turn. There are snake demons who turn men into mindless puppets, chaotic monkey spirits riding on giant sleds, righteous demon hunters protecting the land, and ghosts of long-dead soldiers haunting the countryside. Every one of Miuko’s encounters helps her character evolve just a bit more; challenging her and pushing her to make decisions she never expected to make. Awara is so vast and unknowing, and we learn alongside Miuko as she stumbles through her quest. All these pieces together make for such a rewarding story because I felt like I was by Miuko’s side the entire time.
Miuko is constantly at odds with herself and the world around her. As a human, she fails to conform to the quiet, obedient woman that society demands. Women are not allowed to travel alone, ride horses, or enter libraries. Yet Miuko must do these things and more if she hopes to cure herself, and there are always consequences to her bold actions. Miuko fails to fit into the magical world as well, for her demon form is something feared by spirits and gods alike. Miuko is a poor excuse for a demon and rejects the violent behavior that is expected of her. At every turn, it seems that Miuko is not enough or “right”. Miuko doesn’t meet anyone’s expectations and it creates a confusing experience for her as she tries to sort out who and what she wants to be on her journey.
Awara oppresses anyone that is not a man, and the mistreatment rears its ugly head throughout Miuko’s entire adventure. Widowed women are left at the mercy of terrible sons, girls are cast aside once men lose their desire, and nonbinary individuals seek Awara’s temples for asylum. I love how Chee never lets the reader lose sight of this. Miuko may be on a great adventure doing the impossible, but we’re constantly brought back to reality during these moments when Miuko sees the oppression extending far outside her little village. Miuko was so content to stay in her life. It may have been ill-fitting but it was safe; however, these other people did not have such luxuries. The adventure opens Miuko’s eyes and fuels her desire to create a better world. There is a beautiful point in the story where Miuko tells another girl there is so much more out there for her. The character asks, “For a girl?” and Miuko responds, “For anyone brave enough to look.”
Pick up A Thousand Steps into Night for a great adventure, beautiful acts of friendship, and inspiring moments of self-discovery. I guarantee you will get swept up into the world Traci Chee created and root for Miuko and her companions every step of the way.
Rating: A Thousand Steps into Night – 9.0/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.