Review: ‘Running Away’ by Julie Hutchings

Running Away Final Cover

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

Running Away is the second book in one of the most unique vampire stories I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot). I interviewed Julie Hutchings after the release of the first book in the series; I asked her if Running Home was summed up by the phrase “wasabi and tears”. She said that was a better description of Running Away.

Having now read both, I have to say: hell yes. Wasabi and tears.

This book has the same lush — and often lucious — descriptions as the first book did, with a heavy emphasis on evocative scents and dark imagery. There’s a bit less of the snappy dialogue I loved from book one, but that’s mostly because Eliza spends a lot of time in this book trapped inside herself, both metaphorically and physically.

We meet some interesting new characters — I particularly liked Paolo and Kieran, although I could take or leave Blue. The Master was creepy; he’s traditional old-school Japan, and Eliza is brash modern American, so as you can imagine they get on like a house on fire. (With the exploding.) Also, I couldn’t help but imagine him looking a bit like the Master from the first season of Buffy. Eeew.

Running Away is the second book I’ve read recently that featured the Japanese deities Izanagi and Izanami. (The first was Endsinger by Jay Kristoff.) I really enjoyed seeing the different takes on the same mythology.

For me, the only downside to Running Away is that I felt the editing let Julie down a little in places. It wasn’t anything really major, just the occasional comma splice and so on, but still enough that I noticed.

Still, this was a solid four-star read (“I really liked it”), and I’ll be going back for the last book in the series when it comes out.

Four stars

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