19 October, 2016

{ ARC Review } A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
Published October 25, 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
Standalone Novel
e-ARC provided by Netgalley

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.


My Review

♫ ♫ 

This book was weird. Net necessarily a bad weird, but not necessarily a good weird either.

I'm actually very conflicted on how (what, I suppose) I feel about this book. On one hand, it was a unique and refreshing read, something I'd never come across before. On the other, certain aspects of the story, such as characterisation and plot, kind of irked me.

Reiko is an angry girl. Things haven't gone well for her in the past and things aren't going well for her now. Ever since her ex girlfriend "dumped" her and got her in trouble, Reiko has been seeking revenge. And thinking about her death a lot, constantly saying it has to mean something.

When her cousin forces her to go to Kuramagi, a sleepy if old-fashioned, village, some weird stuff begins to happen. Because she's not Reiko, she's Miyu. And it isn't the modern world, it's the nineteenth century.

I don't know how many times I'm going to say this in the review, but Reiko is angry. Like, unhealthy angry. Like, I'm going to remind you twice, maybe four times, just how angry I am. And it doesn't even come off as edgy—it comes off as annoying.

I get it. Life's dealt you a fair amount of shit and you sure as hell don't want to just take it. You're in a country full of your history and you don't know the language. You're surrounded by people you hate with every fibre in your being. You hate your parents for not caring, your brother for not being there, your ex for being horrible.

But it got repetitive. It got strange. It got unnecessarily dramatic. It had me both eyeing the page oddly or rolling my eyes. Reiko came off as a really unlikable main character which makes me sad because it's not everyday where you meet a character like her. I mean, sure, you meet those full of revenge, but I was hoping Reiko would be a different character. And in the end, she was, but it wasn't a good kind.

You find out more about Reiko's past as the story progresses and that was kind of weird, seeing as how Reiko also spends time as Miyu. I sort of understood why Reiko used Miyu as an escape, but at the same time, she just continually made things worse for her and for Miyu. Both girls are pretty fucked up but Reiko kind of just got free reign when she was Miyu. She made some questionable decisions and well, I did like that she thought about what she'd done after she got back to herself, but it was still a stupid move. 

Also, I kind of expected a bit more from the time travel aspect of the story. It was just simply going back and forth between modern time and the Edo period and that just didn't interest me enough.

And that ending. What the hell? It was so abrupt, so quick and for a character who imagined blood running down her hands and everyone around her dying, that cookie-cutter ending was just a bad call. Everything was suddenly explained and everything went well and it literally made no sense to me. 

So, overall, 2.5 stars.


  1. I'm reading this rn and I feel the same way!! It's so weird

    1. omg i'm glad i'm not the only one! i hope you enjoy this more than i did!