The Returning by Christine Hinwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It took nearly half the book for me to figure out what direction the author was taking: was it a book about class? about returning from war? about life in the vaguely Middle Ages? about love (both heterosexual and implied homosexual)? about culture clashes? That it took that long doesn't usually bode well for the ending. There were too many characters introduced, with chapters all from their different points of view - this added to the confusion. A couple of the characters at first appeared important, but then virtually disappeared later on.
Set in a mash-up of Japan and Scandinavia, The Returning takes place shortly after a war in which the Uplanders defeated the Downlanders. Cam returns to his village, the only one from there that does return - so of course there's that tension (why him? why only him? what happened to the others?). We meet his sister, Pin, along with his family, his soon-to-be-ex-fiancee, his boyhood friend and others. We also meet his new Lord, Ryuu, and his son Gyaar, who for some reason saved Cam's life and offered him a position within his household. See what I mean by confusing?
Ultimately the strands intertwine, but by then I was reading only to see if they would, not because I was really invested in the story.
ARC provided by publishers.
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