When I read the synopsis of A Thousand Steps into Night, the first thing I thought of was Nezuko from Demon Slayer. A girl embarking on a journey to reverse the curse turning her into a demon? Japanese-inspired fantasy with feral gods, curious monsters, and vengeful demons? I knew this book would be a pure delight even before I read the first page–and that feeling was right. Anime and manga lovers, you don’t want to miss this fairytale-esque fantasy brimming with magic, mischief, and whimsical adventures.
Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to living an uneventful life, until one day, she’s kissed by a demon. Not just any demon, but Death woman; a malevolence demon that cursed her to slowly transform into a demon herself. Shunned from her village, she embarks on an epic quest across the Japanese-inspired realm of Awara where gods, monsters, and humans existed side by side, in hopes of finding a way to reverse the curse. Along the way, she befriends a thieving magpie-spirit companion who accompanies her thrilling adventures.
I couldn’t help but vividly imagine the story as anime while I read–a combination of Demon Slayer and Inuyasha. The endearing cast of characters and whimsical adventure also made it reminiscent of a Studio Ghibli film! I particularly enjoyed the feminist themes and discussion of power in a patriarchal society. Sure, becoming a demon had plenty of downsides, but it also came with power. Freedom from restrictions of gender and class. Miuko’s internal dilemma was thoughtfully explored, and even I pondered the choices myself.
It was a bit slow to start, but once Miuko set off on her quest, I was hooked. The coolest part? Footnotes! Explanations, translations, and pronunciations for terms, making the world feel even more immersive. If you’re looking for a fun, adventurous read, look no further.
“Over the wild blue countryside they flew, like a pair of heroes from some ancient tale or a constellation limned in stars, and not once did she look back, for she did not need to—she had the support of her loved ones behind her, and the big, beautiful world ahead.”