Snow, Maya. Sisters of the Sword. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.
In feudal Japan, Kimi and Hana, girls of noble blood, must renounce their family to preserve it. Their uncle's greed and jealousy lead him to kill their father and two older brothers. He planned to kill the whole family, but Kimi, Hana, their mother, and younger brother escaped. The girls are separated from their mother. To protect themselves they become boys and take refuge at Master Goku's dojo as servants. They hone their skills with weapons and vow to avenge their family.
What I thought: As I've studied Japanese history, the historical setting of this book was appealing to me. While girls disguising themselves as boys as been done for centuries (Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night for instance), Snow's take on it is quite original. I don't recall ever reading a story where girls wanted to be samurai. The book reads quickly as you are eager to find out what happens to Kimi and Hana. My only complaint is that the book is the first in a series, yet there's no indication of that until you reach the end. The ending is an unresolved one. The girls have hope because their mother is safe, but their story is not done. A little heads up about this would be nice as I felt dissatisfied with the book when I came to the ending. However, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the other books in the series.
Sisters of the Sword 2: Chasing the Secret (January 2009)
Sisters of the Sword 3: Journey through Fire (June 2009)