Taro is a boy from a coastal village in rural Japan, fated to become a fisherman like his father. But in just one night, Taro's world is turned upside down - and his destiny is changed forever.
This is the perfect book for teenage boys looking for an exciting read with a gutsy hero and plenty of thrills and spills along the way. It appealed to me mainly because it's set in sixteenth century Japan, which is a country I always find endlessly fascinating and also because the concept for the story sounded so fantastic and amazing. The title itself, 'Blood Ninja' was hugely intriguing and had me reaching for the book nearly as soon as it arrived.
The story is about a young fisherman's son who at the beginning of the book is attacked by ninjas. His life is saved by a blood ninja who rescues him from those seeking to kidnap and kill him. There are however a lot of secrets surrounding Taro's heritage and from this moment on, his life, and the only existence he's ever known, is changed forever. He becomes a pawn in the power struggle between Lord Oda and Lord Tokugawa who are the two most powerful men in the country and are both ultimately seeking to gain total control over Japan.
I don't think it's giving anything away by saying that Nick Lake has come up with a genuinely clever and hugely original idea - ninjas who also happen to be vampires which is where they get their incredible speed, strength and agility from. They are an almost unstoppable force but are still susceptible to the usual vampire weaknesses, such as sunlight. I really enjoyed learning about how they all became vampires and the training they have to undergo to become fully fledged ninjas. This will strongly appeal to boys who will love all the action and fighting in the book, along with a generous helping of guts and glory.
I found 'Blood Ninja' to be a thrilling and exciting read which was packed full of action and a real rollercoaster ride of a story. The Japanese backdrop was the perfect setting for the book and I was fascinated by the system of hierarchy and honour which Lake describes and which is integral to the lives of all the characters. It reminded me a little bit of the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn which is a big favourite of mine. It did take me a few chapters to get completely into the story and to familiarise myself with all the characters and their loyalties but the story just kept getting better and better as it went on. This is genuinely a vampire book unlike anything else you will have read before. There are lots of surprises to keep you on your toes and the ending is both shocking and awesome at the same time.
The second book in the planned trilogy has just been released and is called 'Lord Oda's Revenge'. Expect my review soon as I'm reading this one at the moment and literally can't put it down!