Review: Katana by Cole Gibsen


Title: Katana

Author: Cole Gibsen

Publisher: Flux

ISBN: 978-0738730400


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Kill Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai tale

Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn’t explain her dreams of fifteenth century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.


I loved this book!  It had one of my favorite romance tropes – an enduring love that crosses over lifetimes – and a ton of action to keep things moving along. I couldn’t put it down.  Protagonist Rileigh is just snarky enough to be amusing instead of irritating, and the martial arts battles were fun to read.  I was sad when I reached the last page. 

When Rileigh and her best friend are attacked after a shopping trip to the mall, she shocks everyone by beating the crap out of her assailants.  When her life was in danger, a mysterious presence took control of her and handily fended off the thugs.  Shocked, Rileigh doesn’t know whether or not she’s going crazy.  All she knows is that everything around it going nuts, and she is fighting all of the disruptions to her well-ordered life tooth and nail.  When handsome Kim tells her that her life is in danger, she has a hard time trusting him.  When he tells her she was a samurai warrior in a past life, she starts to freak out. How can that even be possible?

While I had to make a serious disconnect from reality, I found the premise of this story irresistible.  As Rileigh fights to keep her life normal and death free, she keeps finding herself in situations where she is forced to admit that there is something really, really wrong going on.  What is that voice that keeps talking to her, and how does she know how to defend herself against swords, shurikens, and pummeling fists?  She’s never given much time to think about her new abilities, because her life is unraveling right before her eyes.  She isn’t exactly the bravest person around, and she would really like to turn tail and run away from danger, but that annoying voice inside her head won’t let her.

This is a quick, fun read that will keep you turning pages in rapid succession.  I literally did not move for extended periods of time once I started reading Katana.  Rileigh’s voice is strong and distinctive, and she held my attention for her entire adventure.  I loved the flashbacks to her warrior past, and kept wondering how things could possibly be made right for Senshi and Yoshido.  I understood Rileigh’s reluctance to accept all of the weird things that were happening to her, though I did wish she had trusted Kim sooner, rather than later, when her stubbornness almost got her, and several of her friends, killed. 

If you enjoy fast-paced adventures with a strong, kick-ass heroine, give Katana a read.  Just remember to suspend your belief before you start reading. 

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher


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