Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn had been sitting on my to read shelf for a little over a year. Having finally succumbed and read the book I was not let down by the superb storytelling on offer. The world is familiar and yet at the same time distant, the characters are beautifully rendered with palpable emotion and the tale is intriguing. In fact many of my favorite elements in any story were present. In many ways this truly imaginative piece, set in a forged world serves to underline why I love fantasy novels to such a great extent: because through their enigmatic, familiar yet separate worlds they reveal truths about our own world while still escaping the bounds of normality.
The tale focuses on two separate points of view: that of Kaede and that of Takeo. Kaede's point of view is narrated in third person while Takeo's was revealed in first person allowing for two interesting perspectives. Takeo becomes a master assassin, learning to control his mysterious powers, while separately Kaede struggles with an unwanted approaching marriage and with a reputation for killing all the men she's engaged with in any way.
This is an active and well paced novel, clearly written with passion. I believe that when authors write their best the passion and enthusiasm should be visible within their words despite any flaws and it is clear here that Lian Hearn was engaged in building her world. A world which it was a wonder to enter and explore.
However that said there were some elements of the plot which fell a little flat. At times the explanation lacked a little. I would personally have enjoyed it more if Hearn took more time to explain the nature of Takeo's mysterious powers rather than simply stating he could appear invisible or create a fake image of himself. Also the romance between Takeo and Kaede seemed underdeveloped and unrealistic. Which was a pity considering that the two separate characters had been framed with care and dedication. Still this was an incredibly easy read, lacking in deep philosophical or psychological meditations perhaps but still truly exploring the real reason for novels existing: to tell stories. And the story contained within Across the Nightingale Floor is one of wonder, intrigue and excitement.
I will definitely continue on to explore the next book in this series and I hope to find it as compelling as the first. For Lian Hearn has written a novel that captures why authors write, to tell the story in their soul through another person's eyes. A story that engages and amazed this reader. I fully recommend this.