Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series Book 1)

Written by Stephanie R. Sorensen
Review by Lisa Sheehan

Toru: Wayfarer Returns is the first installment in Stephanie Sorensen’s “Sakura Steam” Series, a terrifically vivid historical novel set in an 1852 Japan re-imagined along Steampunk lines.

In the novel’s world of the Tokugawa Shogunate, death is the penalty for any inhabitant of Japan who visits the world outside the kingdom. Toru, a fisherman who is shipwrecked and rescued by American traders, undergoes an embarrassing but highly enlightening first contact with Western society and science. Risking his own life, he returns to Japan armed with knowledge and plans that could revolutionize the kingdom in the decade before the opening of Japan to the rest of the world.

Sorensen’s characters are memorably shaped, and her dialog is sharp and lively, but the real highlight of this novel is its superb world-building – considerably helped by the stunning cover.

Anyone reading it will eagerly look forward to the next volume.