We’re excited to tell you that “Silk & Service,” one of David Kudler’s Risuko prequel stories, was chosen for inclusion in That Moment When: An Anthology of Young Adult Fiction. Not only is the book is available now in both print and ebook form, but the ebook is FREE for a limited time!
In a recent interview with book blog A Cup Full of Tea and an Armload of Books, Risuko author David Kudler talks writing, publishing, inspiration, writing history as fantasy, and much more. Continue reading Interview: David Kudler Talks Risuko
Here are two chapters that were cut from the original manuscript of Risuko. This out-take — Crossing the River and Meeting the Mountain — was originally placed between what are now chapters 7 (“The Wind“) and 8 (“The Mountain“—you may recognize one bit of dialogue between Risuko and Masugu from that chapter). I cut them because it was taking too long to get to the Full Moon — to the heart of the story. But there’s some fun stuff, including a meeting with a major historical figure I’ll be talking about soon! (There are a few characters that I’ve cut out as well.)
At the beginning, Masugu and his riders have just found Lady Chiyome’s party at the Mt. Fuji Inn. Masugu offered to let Mieko ride wide him, but she refused, and so Risuko is sitting in front of the Takeda warrior on his stallion as the chapter begins.
By the way, if you read through to the end, there’s a question; be the first to answer it and win a free Audible download code!
Chapter 10—Crossing the River
The whole world seemed to roll and rumble as the great beast leapt ahead, charging down the one street of the town toward a distant white triangle that peeked up over the horizon: Mount Fuji. More Imagawa soldiers lay scattered like deadwood along the street, and several of the tiny houses were burning.
Waste. Such waste.
The rest of the squadron had formed up behind us, and so I felt as if a flood of thunder was pushing me forward. The icy wind whipped the horse’s mane and my own hair across my face until cold tears flooded my eyes. I lowered my head and cleared my vision.
In which Risuko makes a climb and a discovery — and Lady Chiyome delivers a surprise (Teen Historical Adventure)
“If you come with me quietly, Risuko–chan,” Fuyudori said in very hushed tones, waking me from a dreamless sleep, “I can show you something worth watching.” She pulled down my covers, giving me no choice in the matter.
Yawning and shivering, I threw on a winter coat and sandals. Fuyudori placed her finger over my lips, looking down at Emi and Toumi, who were still sleeping.
It always felt as if it were the middle of the night when Fuyudori woke us. But as we made our way out of the relative warmth of our dormitory, there was not even a hint of a winter dawn in the night sky. The snow had stopped and the sky cleared. The stars blazed down on us, big as snowflakes themselves.
I followed Fuyudori out across the undisturbed snow blanketing the courtyard. Dark and moonless as the night was, even the white of the snow seemed dim and grey. Continue reading Read Risuko Chapter 18 – A Fly!
In which Risuko, Emi, and Toumi learn a lot about knives — and rocks. (Teen Historical Adventure)
The routine was almost reassuring: lessons, work, Toumi growling—all of it flowed from one day to the next like a line of ducks swimming up-river. Even the rock-carrying became routine. Occasionally, one or two figures in miko’s robes wandered in through the front gate; just as often, one or more of the women would leave after the morning meal. Yet the little community remained very much the same.
The odd sounds from the great hall were different every day, and always infuriatingly fascinating: sometimes grunts, sometime shouting, and once what sounded like breaking wood. But we weren’t allowed to look, and so this too became part of the pattern.
One day, when the great hall was unusually silent, we were sorting dried mushrooms by color. Kee Sun was very particular about the mix of colors and flavors in all of the food that we prepared. Once we were well into the boring work, he informed us that he had to “go visit the King,” a phrase we never understood, and never wanted to. However, we knew that he would be gone some time. When he had gone, Emi’s sharp elbow bounced against my ribs. Continue reading Read Moon Time at Mochizuki, the next exciting chapter of Risuko!
13 — A Banquet
Risuko, Emi, and Toumi are put to work serving, and discover that the kunoichi are not the shy, polite shrine maidens they had expected.
We began by fetching a large bag of rice from the storehouse. A pair of rats stared up at us when we entered, but Toumi growled at them while I swooshed the long stick that Kee Sun had given us to shoo them with, and they scattered. The bag was heavier than I was, and it took the three of us to drag it to the kitchen. Toumi muttered the whole way, and I would be lying if I said that Emi and I didn’t join her once or twice.
Kee Sun kept us busy, hanging pots over the fire to steam the rice and soybeans in, lowering a battered metal grate to serve as a grill, fetching more charcoal. As the sunlight began to fade from the room, we lit candles in the kitchen and in the hall. Continue reading Read a new chapter of Risuko: 13 — A Banquet
Risuko survives another battle, and Lady Chiyome’s party finally arrives at its destination. But why are Lt. Masugu’s troops so uncomfortable?
The battle, if that’s what it was, didn’t last very long.
Quickly, the sound diminished to almost nothing. There was still some shouting, but it was growing more and more distant.
I snuck carefully out of my hiding place and made my way downhill toward where I knew the road must be.
It was not quite the scene of carnage that had met us that morning when we had first met Masugu-san and his soldiers. There were three dead men I assumed were part of the bandit gang. They’d been piled by the side of the road. There was also one dead horse, and one of the lancers was growling in pain as one of his comrades pulled an arrow through his thigh.
Most of the rest of the Takeda soldiers were missing. Aside from the wounded man and his nurse, only Masugu was there. Lady Chiyome and Mieko were talking with him. Mieko held an arrow in her hand. Continue reading Risuko Sneak Peek: Chapter 11 — Full Moon
Akemashite omedeto gozai masu! (That is, Happy New Year!)
We’ve got an exciting new chapter of Risuko to start the year off with a bang. In 10 — Dark Letter, Risuko and Toumi stray from the trail and discover far more excitement than they’d bargained for.
We spent the night at a small Takeda fort guarding a rocky, barren place called, for some reason, Rice-Paddy Pass, which marked the border between Worth and Dark Letter Provinces. We were so high that there weren’t any trees. I felt naked. The air was dry and cold, we were exhausted, and the soldiers manning the garrison were edgy, as if waiting for an attack, though how — or why — an army would march so far and high I couldn’t imagine. Perhaps they were frightened of ogres.
The next morning, everybody—even Mieko—looked as grumpy as I felt.
Lady Chiyome shouted to rouse us. “Let’s go! I want to be back at the Full Moon by mid-day so that I can take a real bath and eat real food.”
As it turned out, Mochizuki was down in the valley below Rice-Paddy Pass. We began to descend, and for the first time in days I grasped the mane of Inazuna, Masugu’s stallion.
“Easy,” murmured Masugu—I think more for the horse’s sake than mine. To me, he said, “I thought you liked heights?” Continue reading New Year Excitement! Risuko — Chapter 10: Dark Letter
9 — Worth
As Risuko, Masugu, and the rest of Lady Chiyome’s party approach their destination in the mountains, Risuko learns yet another uncomfortable truth — about herself and two other members of the group.
Up and up we rode, around a beautiful lake, and toward the mountain peaks.
A warbler sang from one of the trees and I whistled back. It was a funny time of year for the bird to be here.
“You do bird sounds?” Masugu asked.
“Can you do a loon?” We’d heard one that morning on the lake.
I grinned. That was one of my favorites. I raised my fingers to my hands and gave the loon’s long, sad call.
“Well done!” Masugu laughed. “And how about… a nightingale?”
I turned around to look at him for a moment.
He laughed again. “Fine, fine, I was kidding.” He stared down at me. “How about an owl. Can you hoot three times like an owl?”
“You’re kidding again, right? That one’s easy.” To prove my point, I raised my hands to my mouth again and gave three long hoots: one as a wood owl, one as a snowy owl and one as a Scops owl. Continue reading Sneak Peak! Risuko — Chapter 9: Worth
8 — The Mountain
Headed further from her family and home, Risuko discovers an unsettling truth.
For three days, we rode quickly, without speaking until the mirror of the sun passed behind the mountains. On the first two days, we passed large groups of soldiers bearing the Takeda four-diamond banner marching toward the battles we had just left behind. By the third day, we might as well have been the only people in all of Worth Province —in all of Japan. We passed no one. Even the villages seemed empty.
Every night, the soldiers would make camp—in dry rice paddies or on the edges of fields. They would start preparing a simple meal, which Emi, Toumi, Aimaru and I would help clean up. The men would start talking to each other, and to the Little Brothers, occasionally. They would speak respectfully to Lady Chiyome occasionally, and even tease Aimaru and us three girls a bit.
None of them ever spoke to Mieko-san, though the lieutenant seemed always to know where she was. Continue reading Risuko sneak peek! Chapter 8 — The Mountain