Title: Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path: Book One)
Author: Amy Tasukada
Publisher: Macarons and Tea Publishing
Length: 319 Pages
At a Glance: Violent, gruesome, bloody, and awesome.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: A bloody past haunts him. A devastating present calls him back…
Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.
Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.
As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family…
Review: I wanted a violent book to read, and man, was I not disappointed. Amy Tasukada has crafted a vicious world where the Yakuza are at war with the Korean mafia, and it’s never clear who will be the winner.
The book starts with Nao, a former Yakuza member, stumbling across a Korean man injured in an alley on the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto. He takes him home and tends to his wounds, and it all goes downhill from there. Saehyun is a Korean mafia member whose group plans to take over Kyoto and destroy the Japanese Yakuza. Nao has no choice but to rejoin the Yakuza he has left after a violent, heartbreaking incident in his past.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I will say this book is not for the faint of heart. There is torture, death, and sorrow. There is also, at its heart, a love story, however ill-fated it may be. So many times I had to take a break because I was heartbroken over the actions. However, that does not take away from the story. While I loved and hated the characters, it was written so well I felt as if I was there.
Having visited Japan twice, including Kyoto both times, I could picture every single place Tasukada wrote of. I have walked the Philosopher’s Path, and when she wrote, I could close my eyes and place myself there with Nao. I remember it being such a lovely, peaceful walk. I enjoyed revisiting it with him.
Throughout this brutal novel, I cried several times. However, given the nature of the world the men live in, the brutality was not unexpected. The author does not pull any punches, and for that I am grateful. Had she gone soft on some of the events, it would have done the story and the characters a disservice.
I am very happy that there will be a second book in the series. I don’t know what it will be about, given the ending of this one; however, I do look forward to it. If you don’t mind violent books, then I highly recommend this novel set in Japan. It has beautiful imagery when people are not being brutalized, and the characters are complex.
You can buy Blood Stained Tea here: