Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale. David Kudler. Stillpoint Digital Press. June 2016. 234 pp. ISBN#: 9781938808326.
Kano Murasaki is called “Squirrel” (Risuko) by family and friends. Obviously, she has received this name because she loves to climb houses and trees with a nimbleness and quickness few others possess. She knows Japan has been torn apart by civil war in the year 1570; Risuko knows that her father was a famous samurai warrior who was told to complete a mission but refused and so is no longer a samurai. However, he has taught Risuko the “dance” of sword play which she never realizes will later save lives around her.
For now, Risuko is devastated to find she has been “sold” by her mother to Lady Chiyome to become a Kunoichi which Risuko will not be able to translate or understand for quite a while (although she is bright enough to figure it out earlier than the other characters thought possible). After a very cold and difficult journey, Risuko arrives with other females and little by little learns their stories. She has not realized how important her father was until now, and she begins to display the skills others deem as exceptional but which are normal to her. Risuko is given mundane tasks in the kitchen but also begins training in sword, music, cooking, and other skills.
While Risuko makes quick friends with some of the girls, others seem bent on being perpetual enemies. However, Risuko doesn’t realize that she’s not the one targeted to be killed and certainly doesn’t know why someone (called a “ghost” or “spirit fox” in ancient Japanese tales) wants to kill them all. She will be called upon to be the one called upon to do more than she realized she could do.
The story is also replete with information about Japanese dress and mixed (Japanese and Korean) food that makes for enjoyable reading.
Read this delightful story with the gorgeous cover and enjoy the adventure, wisdom and light spirit threading its fascinating pages. Delightfully told and crafted!