This is a wonderful rendition of a world that has a resonance towards ancient Japan; however, it is very different, having sky ships, flying cities and also a belief in what we would call origami. Kurara is a servant girl on board an airship called the Midori, but she has a secret skill, in that she can make paper models, that seem to come to life; wild versions of these are called shikigami and they are causing havoc within the empire. When Kurara and her brother Haru are captured by a rebel vessel, their lives are in danger, but the ‘crafter’ Himura realizes how useful she could be and they find their lives taking a different path. As they become accustomed to this new life, they become more involved with others that they find on the airship; each of the main characters has a reason to try and win the favour of the imperial princess, but she also has her own agenda as she battles her brother for power. As the plot thickens, we begin to wonder who are the aggressors and who are the victims?
Kurara has to face many challenges and discovers many secrets that have been wiped from her memory. Her skills might make her a prize that the imperial family want, but maybe the price to be paid is too great. This story is about understanding who we are and accepting differences. However, it is also about society and the way that it looks after people, whether it treats them as citizens or as slaves. The contrast between the technology and the magical world really brings the idea of a steampunk society to mind, but with the added concept of feudalism and empire. We really find a lot of sympathy with Kurara as she navigates her new world, so there are some great shocks to be had as the story develops. The next book is bound to hook us even deeper into this world and readers will be longing for the next adventure.