Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee
Clarion Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9780358469988

A broken teacup causes Miuko’s life to turn upside down when her journey to buy a new set of cups leads to a mysterious demon encounter that curses Miuko to slowly become a demon herself. Miuko’s condition is quickly discovered by her fellow villagers and she is forced to flee. In her quest to seek out the entity – god, spirit or demon – that might be capable of ridding her of the demon slowly taking over her body, she is joined by a host of new friends, many of whom are creatures inspired by Japanese mythology. Miuko revels in leaving behind the restrictions of life in her father’s inn and begins to question just how badly she really wants to remedy her current situation.

This inventive Japanese-inspired fantasy begins with the traditional hero’s journey in a setting steeped in mythical elements. With memorable characters, many of whom are non-human, and a clever sense of humor in a lush, fully realized world, readers will find it easy to become immersed. The tightly-plotted narrative features a twist halfway through that will have readers flipping back to the beginning to rediscover details they may have missed the first time through.

Readers of A Thousand Steps into Night will find plenty more sophisticated, folkloric fun in other recent East Asian-inspired fantasies, particularly The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh and Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. If readers enjoyed the plot twist in The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold, they may find similar satisfaction in A Thousand Steps into Night in spite of the obvious differences in setting and genre.

– Courtney Waters

Other Nominated Titles:

  • We Weren’t Looking to be Found by Stephanie Keuhn
  • If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang
  • Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.