“Yumi and the Nightmare Painter” by Brandon Sanderson | Book Review

The star was particularly bright when the nightmare painter started his rounds.

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson

My Review

Yes, she said, bowing her head again. Tell me what you need, and I will do whatever I can.

Please, it said. Free. Us.

All went black.

So, after reading A Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, I decided that that would be it for Brandon Sanderson novels for awhile. Most of his books were set in the same universe – even if they’re on different planets and stuff – so I kind of felt intimidated by it all.

But then I saw the cover for Yumi and the Nightmare Painter and read the summary, and I absolutely had to read it. Even though it was set in the Cosmere universe, and I knew it would be filled with all kinds of references, and might even feature other characters that I didn’t know, I really wanted to read it.

And despite this, that there were a ton of references that I didn’t understand, and that there was at least a character or two from other books, I was still able to really enjoy it. Honestly, that’s probably because I don’t need the most context to enjoy a book, even when it’s a spinoff or something. I know, that’s really weird. But it’s something that I’m able to do for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so much fanfiction, and I’m used to jumping into a new fandom where I’ve never seen or read the original media, and then I have to figure out the original story on my own. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Anyway, I really, really enjoyed this book. I should probably just give up the ghost and start reading an actual Brando Sando series already.

The Characters

Once, she would have assumed that she couldn’t hide, no matter how good the disguise. She would have assumed that people would instantly know a yoki- hijo. But she had lived in Painter’s world. She’d been normal for a week and a half at this point.

I loved the characters in this book so much. They were so relatable in their own ways, despite the fact that they came from such different worlds to each other, and to our own.

Nikaro “Painter” is our male co-protagonist. He’s the embodiment of “deep” and an “angsty teen.” Or at least, that’s the front that he puts up – that’s what he wants himself to believe. But what he actually is, is a lonely, sensitive young man, who feels a little aimless. I loved his character development into someone who accepts who he is, and becoming a so-called “hero” in his own right. He was a great character to follow, and his dialogue with our leading lady was fantastic.

Said leading lady is Yumi, one of the yoki-hijo, a young woman that has the power to summon the spirits of her land and assist the people with them. She’s quiet and reserved, and she holds the entire world on her shoulders, and the stress that builds up because of this is what triggers the inciting incident. Her character development was also fantastic, and I loved watching her grow into an independent young woman.

Most of the other characters were very minor, but they were still pretty good, even if their impact on the story is smaller.

Our narrator, Hoid, has appeared in many a Brandon Sanderson novel. Admittedly, I did a little research after I read Yumi and the Nightmare Painter in order to find this out, though I suspected as much. I liked his narration, and the little bits of his personality throughout. His spren, Design, was also a highly enjoyable character, and I loved hee interactions with Yumi and Painter. Both Hoid and Design made me want to read the Stormlight Archive very, very badly, so despite its length, I’ll probably end up reading it soon.

Design nodded toward Yumi. “Why do you like her?”

“I don’t. We’re forced to work together.”

“Nikaro. Do you want to try that again, and make it sound persuasive or something? Because I’ve only had eyes for a few years, and even I can see straight through you.”

The romance between Painter and Yumi was very sweet. They were a very easy couple to root for from the beginning – they’re such cinnamon rolls! I also love how obvious they were about it, even though they tried not to be.

The other character relationships were also nice. I liked how Yumi bonded with Painter’s former friends. There’s a few nice female friendships here. I also liked Design and Hoid’s relationship, and how you can infer so much about it, even with their pretty much non-existent interactions throughout the novel.

The Setting

The hion lines were the colors of Kilahito. Needing no pole or wire to hold them aloft, they ran down every street, reflected in every window, lit every denizen. Wire-thin strings of both colors split off the main cords, running to each structure and powering modern life. They were the arteries and veins of the city.

The setting was so cool. I loved the contrast between Yumi’s bright and warm world, to Nikaro’s dark, cool one. The hion line lights that powered and lit everything up were also very interesting. I also really loved the contrast of cyan and magenta (it made a very pretty cover).

The matter of how Painter and Yumi’s worlds were tied together was something that I was guessing until it was revealed. Why, oh why, did I wait until this year to read a Brandon Sanderson book? Why? They’re just so good!

The Plot

The story of this book – or should I say stories – was so, so good. Sanderson said he was inspired by the manga Hikaru no Go, Final Fantasy X, and the anime Your Name, and it really shows. Before reading this book, I was aware that it was inspired by some Japanese media, and I’d already guessed that Your Name was one of them while reading, because of what happens after the inciting incident.

The B other plot wasn’t quite as interesting. I don’t care what Hoid says in his narration – this was Yumi and Nikaro’s story! And even though I’ve read this book cover to cover, I still consider it to be the primary plot.(Again, I don’t give a crap about what Hoid claims.)

This was a very character driven book as opposed to plot, however. There was quite a bit of plot, don’t get me wrong, but it was what one would call a slow-burn. That didn’t mean the book was boring – far from it, in fact. The characters were so entertaining, and narration so fun, that it made up for that entirely. Such a well-written novel.

Final Thoughts

Art doesn’t need to be good to be valuable. I’ve heard it said that art is the one truly useless creation-intended for no mechanical purpose. Valued only because of the perception of the people who view it. The thing is, everything is useless, intrinsically. Nothing has value unless we grant it that value. Any object can be worth whatever we decide it to be worth.

So yeah, do I recommend Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson? Hell yeah I do! It’s a wonderful story, with a sweet little romance, as well as lots of interesting commentary about art. (Particularly with the AI stuff going on now.)

This book was wonderful, and the art was so pretty. I love, love, loved the art so much! Aliya Chen is a fantastic artist, and the art also added to the slight anime vibe of the novel.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed! And I hope that you have an awesome day/night!

What Brandon Sanderson books have you read? Have you read Yumi and the Nightmare Painter? What did you think of them if you have?

See ya ~Mar


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