Tsuba Ren by Tod Leben
Tsuba Ren is a urban fantasy that is late young adult to new adult. The story switches setting between somewhere in forested USA (the south was the general idea behind the setting, but isn’t clear) and a hidden rock formation in the deep ocean. It is several days flight from Miami. The time is spring/summer. There is no set time period. The first chapter is several months. The rest takes place over several days.
The first chapter has a lot of triggering events because she’s trapped within the confines of the enemy and they use her. I try to keep it easy to read without ignoring the fact it is happening to her.
It is written similar to a older young adult novel/novella. There is a romance between Laurel and Reki that is clear and strong from start to finish. Adam tempts something, but has no chance.
It is less of an coming of age and more of realizing the expectations of an adult in society. She has to accept her new found powers and where they come from, but she never has to accept herself if that makes sense. She isn’t growing from child to adult, although there is a level of growth due to age in the story.
How high fantasy is it? I probably wouldn’t call it high fantasy at all. There is clear understanding that this world is Earth. That Laurel is an American. And that the Tengu colony are completely aware of the fact they are demons on Earth’s surface.
There is magic at play. Magic that is said to hide in the shadows and that people refuse to see even if staring them down.
There is no direct connection between Llyod magic and any witchcraft or group on the globe. If there is a level of parallel to any group, it is a coincindence.
Tengu (Wiki it!) is a creature used in the religious mythologies of Japan. You can learn more about tengus if you desire. Although some of the similaries are there, I mostly used it as a crow demon comparison. As if the colony stole the name for use instead of making a match. Although English translates yokai to demon, it is not a true direct comparison to the complicaties of the myth. European religious mythology is not the only one and isn’t the one everyone should lean on for comparisons.
The myth I create for this series has demons being a thing, but angels being almost missing. It goes heavily into demon actions. The surface angelic beings don’t have the same level of power as the surface demons. Although surface demons normally are weaker than those who live in hell.
It’s complicated. I have several stories within the world completed. The main purpose is to flip the thought “Hell is the worse place ever” by making demons being almost a saving grace.
In Tsuba Ren, her demon involvement is better than her circumstances with her capture and her human home. She finds people who truly consider her for all her abilities in the Tengu family whereas there has been hidden information and lies and denials in her human one.
This does hit Found Family trope. As many of mine do. It also proves freedom comes in many forms and acceptance is more important than a lot of other things.
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