A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.


A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.


I was really looking forward to reading this one because I am a big fan of teen fantasy. And it has all the elements of a great read: teen angst (Reiko is really angry), pop culture, time travel. But it just never got there for me. I found myself constantly asking when I was going to find out what exactly had happened that fueled this incredible anger, but felt like I only ever got tidbits that never amounted to the full story.

As for the time travel aspect, I enjoyed that part. I will admit that I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Japanese history, but it felt like Smith had put a solid amount of time an effort into researching the period that Reiko was returning to. I was able to easily visualize these scenes, and being transported was fun.

Overall, this was just a middle-of-the-road read for me. I think readers are either going to love it or hate it, depending on what they’re seeking from this book. If the synopsis sounds appealing to you, I think you should definitely give it a whirl.


Purchase links: Barnes & NobleIndieBoundAmazonAuthor stats: WebsiteInstagramTwitterTumblrBook stats: Paperback, 288 pages, Square Fish, October 24, 2017 ** Hardcover, 272 pages, Roaring Brook Press, October 25, 2016


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