Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
Atlantic, 2010. ISBN 9781848873872.
(Age 13+) We all know that vampires are enormously popular at the moment. This book seeks to capitalise on this popularity with an added Japanese ninja twist. The protagonist of Blood Ninja is a teenage boy called Taro from a small fishing village in 1565 feudal Japan. Taro's life changes dramatically one night when his bed-ridden father is beheaded as he sleeps and in his father's defence Taro is also killed only to be brought back to life by the bite his protector Shusaka, who was once a samurai turned vampire and ninja. Taro along with his orphaned over-weight best-friend are then forced to flee the small village to find refuge from the ruler of their territory Lord Odo who has ordered Taro's death. Taro, Hiro and Shusaka then move to safer refuge by the cover of night, because sunlight can kill vampires, fighting battles along the way. The quest takes another turn when Taro decides he want to take revenge on his father's death by personally assassinating Lord Oda. Concepts of vampires and ninjas are somewhat challenged and at times difficult to comprehend in this book but the regular fight action keeps the story moving, even if it a bit violent for a younger age group, with beheadings and sword gashes described in detail. This book would be recommended for those teenage readers of other vampire, ninja or Japanese fantasy books. These readers might then be looking forward to any follow-up books that are likely to stem from this book in a future series.