Across the Nightingale Floor
more than lives up to its billing as an exceptional new literary sensation, from the tragic excitement and drama of a sacked village on the opening page, to the later multi-layered court intrigues and tales of family revenge by ancient Japanese dynasties. The engaging story and appealing characters combine incredibly well to produce a highly readable book that should appeal to many different-aged readers.
Takeo is just 16 when he loses his family to the evil Lord Iida and it seems like incredible luck when he is saved from death by the noble Shigeru, rightful heir to the Clan of the Otori. As Takeo travels into new territory and towards a new, unknown life, the tribal rivalries, romances and histories at large in this new world are revealed to him. These are treacherous times. Everyone is at risk, and few can be trusted. Takeo also has a special gift--inherited skills that mark him out as different from other men. He is at once desirable and highly dangerous to those in power. His life is soon in danger.
It's a fascinating landscape and a riveting story; it's genuinely very difficult to put down once you've started it. Unusually for a children's book with so many characters, several with strange-sounding names, the story is easy to follow. The writing is exceptional, with very few words out of place. The author, a pseudonym for Australian writer Gillian Rubinstein, is generous enough to paint the characters and scenery in great detail, yet keeps the writing clipped enough for the plot to move along at a steady pace. Importantly, there are no slow bits.
The book does not flinch from adult content and is certainly a mature read. There are numerous deaths, several beheadings, torture, cruelty and even a little lovemaking. All, however, are within context and not gratuitous. (Age 12 and over.) --John McLay
...a fantastic (in both senses of the word) tale. -- Robert McCrum, The Observer
...a thrilling tale of love, violence, loyalty and betrayal, fast-moving, set in a far away country long ago... -- Jan Mark, The Guardian, 14 September 02
...set in a mythical, feudal Japanese land... Against this savage backdrop two teenagers find their destiny in a doomed love. -- The Times 28 August 02
...starts well and just gets better and better... an exciting mix of civil war, secrecy and supernatural skills. -- Sainsbury's Magazine, 01 September 02
An intense love story at the heart of this novel makes for a book that's hard to put down. Lian Hearn is an exciting new crossover author. -- The Bookseller, 19 July 02
In a genre as full of traps for the unwary as the nightingale floor itself, Hearn has crossed the first part with honour. -- The Times (T2), 21 August 02
It's a complex, utterly satisfying story. -- Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday, 1 September 02
The most enjoyable book I have read this year... This is a book that transcends the children's market, and I hope adults will read and savour it. -- The Bookseller 21 June 02
The passion and rapture of this story is so compelling. -- Amanda Craig, The Times
The plot is gripping and the writing is beautiful, packed with authentic, atmospheric detail. -- Evening Standard, 6 September 02