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Starred Kirkus Review

Claire's parents are keeping secrets that could kill her. Sixteen-year-old Claire Takata is a spirited, inquisitive amateur locksmith and sleuth. Claire and her brothers have always believed their father died of a heart attack 10 years ago and that their mother met their stepdad after he died. But when Claire finds an old letter in her father's journal and pictures locked away in her stepdad's desk that reveal otherwise, she is determined to find out the truth. Why have her mom and stepdad lied to her? Why does her mom never want to talk about her father? And what really happened to him? Through letters Claire has written to him over the decade since his death, Claire's father has served as her confidant, an outlet for her grief, frustrations, and longings. The author also makes smart use of these letters, interspersing them between chapters to deliver important back story. Claire's grief and sense of loss are compounded when she eventually discovers that her father had been a member of the yakuza, transnational Japanese organized crime syndicates—and then her sleuthing attracts the attention of someone tied to her father's past....The romantic tension between Claire and her best friend, Forrest, plays out authentically in a subplot, and the novel's twists and turns will keep readers riveted and guessing even after they finish the book. This fantastic debut packs a highly suspenseful blend of action, intrigue, and teen romance. (Thriller. 12 & up) 


“Full of character, culture, and suspense, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating read with surprising new elements and a true heroine in Claire Takata. Fantastic!” —Ally Condie, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy

“Ink and Ashes is a Japanese-infused thrill ride that will keep the reader guessing until the very last page!  From anime to yubitsume, author Valynne Maetani weaves her cultural roots into the life of Claire, a typical Utah high-schooler who stumbles upon dark secrets from her past. Believable and utterly unique!”—Edgar Award-winning author Alane Ferguson

“I love Claire from  INK AND ASHES. I've been waiting a long time to read a YA novel with such a great heroine, and the mystery is a perfect match for her. One layer of deceit and intrigue is revealed, only to have another one waiting underneath. The suspense builds and builds to a fever pitch.”—METTE IVIE HARRISON, author of The New York Times Notable Book The Bishop’s Wife

"There’s nothing out there like this Japanese debut thriller by Valynne Maetani! Intense, absorbing and thoroughly entertaining. The main character Claire is truly a heroine I can root for. She’s smart, sassy and devoted even as she navigates soccer, piano, lock-picking, and, oh yeah, a little bit of murder. Maetani  incorporates themes from her own Japanese heritage and blends them with family drama and even romance in a mystery that will have you guessing until the very end.  My favorite debut of the year!"

—Brodi Ashton, author of the Everneath series

“Maetani has created a thriller built out of the secrets, loyalty, and revenge. Her main character, Claire Takata, is both an inspired creation and inspiring heroine!”—Sarwat Chadda, author of USBBY Outstanding International Book The Savage Fortress


“In this twisty, slow-burn thriller Maetani balances murder, mystery, and family drama beautifully.”—LAMAR GILES, author of Fake ID and Endangered

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