A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain, but may provide a taste of Japanese culture and folklore.
People who don't conform to norms could achieve so much more, and live much happier lives, if they were accepted and understood instead of feared and rejected. Society as a whole would be so much stronger and healthier because "everyone needs everyone," and no one gets what they want all by themselves.
Positive Role Models
Miuko is a strong model of self-control, courage, and perseverance. She's a misfit, doesn't want to conform to society's strict expectations, and chafes against the limited opportunities open to her as a woman. So she finds a way to forge her own path. Her friends are loyal and supportive. A villain is out for revenge.
In a fantasy world based on Japanese folklore, different races or ethnicities aren't mentioned. There are gendered, nongendered, nonbinary, and transgender people and fantasy creatures.
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Violence & Scariness
People and fantasy creatures fight physically by biting, scratching, kicking, gouging, and punching. Weapons include knives, swords, and arrows. Blood and pain are mentioned but not described. Lots of scary fantasy creatures, demons, and ghosts threaten or endanger main characters. Magical powers drain people of their life force. Large-scale destruction mentions blood-soaked fields and bodies with vultures on them. A forced kiss. A non-sexual kiss transfers a curse.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character who appears once smells of wine in the morning. Demons and spirits in a gambling den drink rice wine with some drunken behavior.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Thousand Steps Into Night is a fantasy inspired by Japanese folklore by Printz Honor recipient Traci Chee. Female main character Miuko is cursed by a demon and travels the thousand-step highway to reach a temple where she can be cured of the curse before it turns her into a demon forever. Fantasy and real-world violence includes physical fights with biting, scratching, kicking, gouging, and punching. Weapons include knives, swords, and arrows. Blood and pain are mentioned but not described. Lots of scary fantasy creatures, and some large-scale destruction. There's a forced kiss, and a non-sexual kiss that transfers a curse. The only strong language is "damned." Demons and spirits in a gambling den drink rice wine; some drunken behavior shown. A minor character smells like wine in the morning. Separation from parents by abandonment and being kicked out of home, and oppression of women are strong themes.
Is It Any Good?
This epic fantasy inspired by Japanese folklore is gorgeously written and deeply realized. In A Thousand Steps Into Night, author Traci Chee builds a vast, vivid, detailed world populated with colorful, believable characters. Their page-turning adventures are filled with humor and suspense while Miuko discovers her humanity and self-worth.
Teens will relate to Miuko as she chafes against society's expectations, and longs for empowerment and the freedom to be herself. The made-up language with pronunciations and definitions in footnotes can be a bit overwhelming at first but taper off as the story picks up. The ending is sweetly satisfying, but leaves room for further adventures.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Thrilling Books for Teens Who Love Fantasy
Books with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Characters
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