“You told me before that you’d never regret meeting me. Do you still feel that way now?”
Eighteen-year-old Sakura has spent her high school years living in self-imposed isolation. She’s carefully perfected her role as a cold, stuck up snob at school to keep her classmates, her teacher, the world at a distance so they will never learn the truth: about the night her father’s mental illness tore her world apart, leaving her an orphan and living on borrowed time.
To help her get through the pain, the kind man who adopted her would spin fantastical stories about his childhood friend Kazuki, a magical yokai from another world. Harmless fairy tales to take her mind off things, or so she always thought…
Until the night she finds Kazuki lying wounded in her garden. With the handsome yokai now sharing her house, a jealous young tengu living in her cherry tree, and new friends pushing their way past her walls, Sakura’s stoic acceptance of her fate is slipping.
But is she only opening herself up to further heartache and regret or is she opening the door to a happiness she never imagined possible?
I received Aisuru on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of Aisuru. I haven’t seen many reviews on the internet, but I decided to go ahead and read it. What got me to read the book was the synopsis since it sounded like a blend of contemporary and fantasy. I was intrigued by the characters, especially Sakura. Aisuru reminded me a bit of Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita, just the whole human-yokai romantic relationship, but that’s just it.
What I was expecting was an action-paced book filled with a lot of magical scenarios and political drama. Now what I got was different than what I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t bad. I was a tad disappointed that most of the book focused on Hakodate, Japan rather than the magical kingdom of Throklana.
Alright, basic plot of the book is that Sakura is dying and has less than a year of life left. Sakura tries to be an ice queen to those around her. Most of her classmates have invented rumors about her due to her cold personality. Though Sakura puts on an act, she is actually sweet and caring. She has hidden her illness from everyone; she wants to be treated like a normal girl. She wants to do many things in her life, but knows she can’t achieve those goals. When I was reading Sakura’s pov, I did tear up. Sakura was very accepting of her fate in the beginning of the story. As chapters progressed, it became harder for her to accept her death. Though Sakura has little character growth in the book, she at least tried to live as a normal girl. She got to accomplish some of her goals on her bucket list. One of my favorite moments of the book was the introduction of Sakura’s classmates that eventually became her friends. I have to say that this book did really great when it came to friendship.
I was actually surprised that this book was a bit dark at some times. Sakura’s past was extremely sad, especially what happened to her parents. Though she was adopted into a loving home after the traumatizing events of her childhood, she grew up mostly independent. That’s one thing that I really liked about Sakura, she always did her best no matter her limitations.
Moving on to Kazuki, I felt okay about him. Kazuki is the yokai prince who is supposed to take over the kingdom while his father is on his pilgrimage. Kazuki never wanted to be king. He is the oldest sibling, but he knows that his younger brother is far more capable of being the next crown king. The author didn’t really give a great description of his features besides his long claws and white hair. So I imagined him like this that whole time:
Kazuki was a good guy, but a horrible leader. Here’s the thing: his kingdom is in turmoil and his brother turned against him. What does Kazuki do? Reside in the human realm and leaves his kingdom in hands of his advisors. He abandoned the throne, and though his duty is to the kingdom, he never really does anything to contribute anything. I can see why he is fascinated with the human world, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t till 75% of the book that he decided to take action. As I’ve mentioned, he was a good guy…he did have some cute moments especially with Karasu. Now Karasu was one of my favorite characters in the story. He is a yokai as well and very devoted to his master. He initially hates Sakura and doesn’t trust her whatsoever. I found Karasu to be an adorable jealous little brother. He had a sad backstory that I wish got expanded more!
Anyways, I thought that Aisuru was going have a lot of action, but I got more of a contemporary vibe. Most of the book was spent on Kazuki and Sakura doing normal errands such as cleaning, or cooking. It seemed that this was going to be a book filled with insta-love, but I am glad that the author tried to build up the romance. There wasn’t much tension between the two characters and the kiss happened out of nowhere.
As for the whole plot, I thought it could have been great if there was no conflict in the yokai realm. Since most of the book took place in the human realm, it felt a bit too much to have two conflicts because Sakura was the main focus throughout the book. The conflict in Kazuki’s realm was ignored till the end!! But, despite Aisuru’s flaws, I did find myself enjoying the book. The book did have a villain! Surprise, surprise it wasn’t the brother. I assumed it was another character…since the villain didn’t get introduced till 50% of the book. I won’t give much away, but just wow.
What I liked:
- Sakura’s pov
- The ending was cute
I feel that Aisuru could have made a good graphic novel since the author is inspired by Japanese culture. I was mostly thinking of anime when reading this book!
Final Rating: (3.5)