Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein.
Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff
First off is Daughter of the Sword. Strangely enough, the author lives in Rochester (just like me.)
Tokyo cop Mariko Oshiro investigates the attempted theft of an old samurai sword- forged by the legendary Master Inazuma, a swordsmith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and it threatens to turn against her even as she learns to wield the sword herself…
Doesn’t it sound great? I’m all about Urban Fantasy with non-US main characters. And the author seems to have the travel background and education to make the details of Tokyo non-cringe worthy.
Second is Stormdancer.
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shogun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
So weirdly enough, both of these authors are men. Or maybe not weirdly at all. Up ’til now the US authors I felt most captured authentic (in my view) fantastical Japan was Chris Barzak ( The Love We Share Without Knowing for Magical Realism in Modern Japan) and Kij Johnson (The Fox Woman and Fudoki, among others for Historical Fantasy with lush setting and evocative, intense character-building).
Only one of these people is a woman (Kij).
Why aren’t there more women writing about fantastical Japan? (Kara Dalkey is okay, but more middle grade/YA). There’s lots of women writing about Japanese historical mystery (Laura Joh Rowland, IJ Parker) but not fantasy as much.
I’m trying to keep myself from making stereotypical comments about the kind of people who become obsessed with Japanese History cross-sectioned with those who like speculative fiction.