Awards, news and reviews for “Toru: Wayfarer Returns.”

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APPROVED, 5 Stars, Awesome Indies


FINALIST (Winners TBD), Multicultural (Adult Fiction), 2016 Foreword INDIES Book Awards

SHORTLIST (Winners TBD), Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction, 2016 Chanticleer Cygnus Book Awards

FINALIST, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

BRONZE MEDAL, Multicultural Fiction, 2016 eLit Book Awards

GOLD STAR, April 2016 e-Book Cover Design Award


“First-time author Sorensen launches her Sakura Steam series with a well-told what-if story that brings a steampunk aesthetic to real-life 1800s Japan…Sorenson cunningly blends far-out fiction with actual historical personages (many of whom may be unfamiliar to round-eyed barbarian readers) and a Meiji Restoration-era mindset….Young adults as well as older readers can partake of the delicious genre-blending bento. Cool alternative-history yarn of yester-century Nippon, a promising steampunk-energized start.” Kirkus Reviews Full review

“Sorensen immerses readers in a compelling and provocative story….an absorbing read.” — BlueInk Review Full review

“In an impressive debut Sorensen weaves a page-turning tale of alternate history ….a satisfying blend of serious historical speculation, military action, suspense, and romance that at times also evokes the mood of a Miyazaki film. Tōru’s tale is just the first installment in a much bigger saga. If future volumes are as well-written and entertaining as this one, Sorensen’s future as an author looks extremely bright.” — The US Review of Books 5 stars Recommended review Full review Full Review on Goodreads

“An enjoyable and believable work of alternative historical fiction.” — Foreword/Clarion 5 Stars Full Review

“TORU: WAYFARER RETURNS is a fast-paced historical adventure steeped in Japanese culture.” — IndieReader

The paths of sword and steam cross brilliantly…This is easily a 5 star novel that I think most readers will find approachable and satisfying.” — Awesome Indies 5 Stars Full review Two full assessments on Amazon

“A terrifically vivid historical novel set in an 1852 Japan re-imagined along Steampunk lines….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.” — Historical Novel Society Full review

REVIEWS (Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs, Readers Favorite)

“If you’re into the Steampunk genre or even if you’re not, it’s a beautiful read.” — T.S. O’Neill. Full review

“If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, something that is gripping, intelligent, and utterly unique, read Tōru: The Wayfarer Returns. The author expertly crafts a tale that weaves history and fantasy, American steam punk and ancient Japanese traditions, and the high stakes of love and honor into a beautiful tapestry as colorful and brash as the young, rebellious protagonists who set out to change the course of history. Each detail is written to be savoured; from the engineering of cutting edge 1850’s steam engines, dirigibles, and telegraphs, to the elaborate cuisine and embroidered kimonos of Japanese royalty. You’ll happily get lost in this world of “what ifs”.” — J.M. Lipp. Full review

“Sorensen shows her ability and sense of balance by placing vibrant and youthful characters to enliven this epopee of the machine…The bulk of the enthusiasm, however, comes from the author herself, from the love she obviously has for Japanese culture; and the way she communicates it is, frankly, intoxicating…All in all, an entertaining and vivacious tale.” — Marie-Jo Fortis. Full review

“This book is a cut above. Convincing and compelling, well written, and with rounded and believable main characters.” — Sean Delauder. Full review.  Full review, with awesome pictures!

“Toru is a vast thought experiment, at times touching and engaging, it is also optimistic. There is the sense that we, in our time, with increasing levels of injustice in our society, could learn from a bunch of open-minded dreamers on the edge of revolution.
And who wouldn’t want dragon airships after all!” — BlackRainbow.   Full review on blog

“I cannot recommend this story enough. The plot and pacing were awesome, the writing was fantastic, and the story itself was something that just— surrounded me.” — L. Evans.    Full review. Full review on blog

“I’ll admit I’ve never read steampunk set in Japan, and I found it refreshing. I loved the cultural references from bits of language to clothing to food. It was a fascinating look at an alternate history with plenty of industrial revolution goodness….The story is beautifully written with the right balance of action and character development. Toru is a fascinating character, and he managed to surprise me more than once. This is a story that hooks you from the start and is very hard to put down.” — Purple Violin.    Full review

” An Immersive Steampunk Vision of Feudal Japan. Worth the Read!…The build-up of the novel is well worth it. I found myself very much reminded of the spirit and bravery of the American Revolution, especially when it was juxtaposed against the grace and quiet dignity of Japan. While this is certainly steampunk alternative history, you definitely get a grasp of and respect for Japanese culture at the time.” — Sirius Knott. Full review. Full review on blog

“The adventures of this seemingly humble peasant who gradually reveals his powerful connections in his campaign to arm his homeland against this inevitable invasion with the benefaction of powerful nobles and an inevitable heroine is a well-paced story that carries you into the fantastical world of steam-punk fantasy with ease.” — Alan. Full review

“This book was a delight! Stephanie cheerfully and gracefully combined historical themes from Japan and beyond with a believable story line and charismatic characters. Then she guided the story smoothly into an alternative Steampunk future that made sense and was compelling… here’s hoping the next book in the series appears soon!” — Brenda M. Wiard. Full review

“Ms. Sorensen has written a fine addition to the rather scarce body of historical fiction based on Japan (in English), and then made it an alternative history and somewhat steampunk-ish to boot.” — Charles F. Kartman. Full review

“I loved Toru: Wayfarer Returns. Loved. It. How’s that for a review? Author Stephanie R. Sorenson is an extremely intriguing new voice in the field of steampunk fiction, and any lover of the genre should run, not walk, to get her book!” Tracy Stowiak, Readers’ Favorite reviewer. Full review

“From her years in Japan, Sorensen is uniquely qualified to allow us the Japanese perspective. Rather than a rehash of the past, she offers an alternative history where real Japan meets steampunk….as we follow the story, through the author’s excellent command of Japanese culture, we witness the honor, dignity, and beauty of the Japanese ideal. The novel held my interest through its drama, its enlightenment, and its subtle humor.” — Gloria Piper.  Full review

“It’s an enjoyable read and an interesting alternative history and I think a lot of people will enjoy this book.” — Josie. Full review

“I found Toru to be a likable hero; he was stubborn and resilient, but also flawed and uncertain at times; I think this gave him a very realistic appeal….All of the authentic little details and accurate descriptions really lend not only credibility, but also believability to the storyline. Sorensen takes a variety of real historical facts and seamlessly blends them together with exciting steampunk elements, creating one entertaining story! I would recommend Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie Sorensen to all fans of action, adventure, historical and steampunk genres” — Charity Tober, Readers’ Favorite reviewer. Full Review

“I loved the 19th-century Japanese setting of this book.” — Melinda. Full review

“I completely enjoyed author Stephanie R. Sorenson’s creativity and ability to write a unique storyline overlying the actual time period of Japan in 1852. Author Sorenson has done a brilliant job at creating characters that her readers will connect with and care about, certainly no small feat. Any reader who enjoys steampunk, historical fiction, or just a great read in general should absolutely read Toru: Wayfarer Returns.” Chris Fischer, Readers’ Favorite reviewer. Full review