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Yumi And The Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson Review - A marvelous anime-style standalone that completely surprised me with how good it is

Read Time: 9 minutes
Published On: August 9, 2023
Yumi And The Nightmare Painter

Yumi And The Nightmare Painter is the latest book by Brandon Sanderson taking place in The Cosmere. The novel reminds me of Your Name, the anime movie.

About 'Yumi And The Nightmare Painter'

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Cosmere

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy

Other works from the Author: The Stormlight Archive Series, Elantris, Warbreaker, Skyward Series, The Mistborn Saga

Page Number: 474 pages Listening Time: 14 hours 42 mins

Goodreads Rating: 4.59/5

My Rating: 4/5

Plot - 4/5

Nikaro is a Nightmare Painter. Nightmare Painters are a special force that curb and control the dangerous creatures on the planet of Komashi that feed on people's dreams. They do this by painting the nightmares in a non-threatening way, which makes them harmless. Nikaro is a lone wolf, but not by choice. He would like to think that he prefers to work alone, but that's not true. He is lonely and longs for companionship.

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Illustration by Aliya Chen

Somewhere else, Yumi is chosen from birth to perform rituals that attract spirits. The spirits enrich their community with resources in turn. Being chosen by birth to serve a community has restricted her life, and she feels like she is living in shackles. She longs for freedom and adventure.

One day, Nikaro sees a stable nightmare out in the open. Stable nightmares are nightmares that have fed on many people and have not been controlled. They have begun to develop a shape and are more solid. Stable nightmares can cause a lot of harm to the people of Komashi. But the encounter with this particular nightmare changes Nikaro's life in a second.

I'm in love with this plot. The way Brandon Sanderson has established the characters and the world immerses you in a dreamlike reading experience. The plot intrigued me so much that I couldn't put the book down once the action picked up. The first few chapters were a bit confusing, but it really surprised me from 10% of Yumi And The Nightmare Painter.

Characters - 5/5


Yumi is the main character of this book, and I loved spending time with her in every chapter. She is a complex and well-developed character, with a soft nature that is threatened by her rebellious mind. The rigidity that was forced on her from birth has created an inner turmoil that is fascinating to read about.

The strength of Yumi's character is captured beautifully throughout Yumi And The Nightmare Painter. She starts out as a dutiful and obedient Yoki-Hijo, but as she interacts with Nikaro and learns more about the world, she begins to question her place in it. She ultimately realizes that she has the power to choose her own path, and she sets out on a journey of self-discovery.


7 the noodle pupil web
Illustration by Aliya Chen

Nikaro, or Painter as he is more commonly known, is a lone wolf who goes through the motions of his life. He believes that he prefers to work alone, but this is simply a way of coping with the loneliness that he has caused himself. His conversations with Design, a Cosmere adjacent character, are my favorite part of the book.

These conversations delve deeper into worldbuilding and character depth in a way that never feels forced. I loved seeing Nikaro's character grow throughout the book. He starts out as a cynical and jaded individual, but as he interacts with Yumi and learns to trust others, he becomes more open and hopeful.

Worldbuilding - 4/5

Brandon Sanderson is the master of worldbuilding. His books always blow my mind with their intricate and unique worlds. Yumi And The Nightmare Painter is no exception.

The planet of Komashi is a world of neon cyan and fuchsia lights, permanently shrouded in darkness. It's like something out of an anime movie. I loved spending time in Nikaro's world, learning about its strange and wonderful inhabitants.

Yumi's world is the exact opposite. It's a land of constant sunlight, scorched by warm orange and yellow tones. The two worlds are so different, yet they're both incredibly well-crafted.

Sanderson's worldbuilding is truly awe-inspiring. The artwork in Yumi And The Nightmare Painter makes it even more so. I can't wait to see what other worlds he creates in the future.

Magic System - 4/5

Brandon Sanderson has never failed to create a compelling magic system. He is a master of this genre, and I can't comprehend how he comes up with such creative and intricate systems.

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Illustration by Aliya Chen

The planet of Komashi is in permanent darkness, so the energy comes from the Hion Lights that originate from Hion lines. These lines can be of various sizes, ranging from wire-thin to the thickness of a wrist. They branch out into the thin air of the planet, and they are the main source of energy.

The magic system is not fully explained, which may be frustrating to some readers. However, I think this is intentional. Sanderson is trying to create a soft magic system, which is one that is not fully explained and leaves some room for mystery. This is a different approach from his other works, which tend to have more hard magic systems that are fully explained and consistent.

I think Sanderson is doing a great job with this soft magic system. I love that not everything is explained and that the focus is on the plot and the characters. This makes the magic feel more mysterious and exciting, and it leaves me wanting to learn more.

The magic system also connects perfectly with the Cosmere, the shared universe that Sanderson's books are set in. In fact, it expands *The Cosmere* in some interesting ways. There are many easter eggs for Cosmere fans like myself, and I found them to be amusing and insightful.

Pacing - 4/5

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is perfectly paced. The plot never drags on unnecessary things, and every character has a reason to be there. The plot and characters are seamlessly integrated, which makes for a very enjoyable reading experience.

The first few chapters do take a little bit of time to get used to the world, but once the action starts, it never leaves you asking for more. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter and Tress of the Emerald Sea are similar in that sense.

Enjoyment - 4/5

I immensely enjoyed my time with Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. It was the perfect book at the perfect time for me. I had been reading so many bad romance novels and was finding fantasy unappealing. I was also in a dreadful reading slump. This book helped me enjoy reading again and helped me overcome my reading slump immensely.

The fantasy lovers will definitely enjoy Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. It is the perfect entry point to the Cosmere for new readers. The book has a well-developed plot, interesting characters, and a unique magic system. The characters are complex and relatable, and the plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. The magic system is creative and innovative, and it adds a new layer of excitement to the story.

Final Verdict - 4/5

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is a perfect book if you are looking for a standalone fantasy with an enthralling plot, memorable characters, and breathtaking worldbuilding. It is set in a world inspired by anime, especially the movie Your Name. Despite being a part of a larger interconnected universe called The Cosmere, it leaves a lot of room to attract new readers. There are many Easter eggs for Cosmere nerds like myself, but they are set up in a way that will not deter new readers at all.

The plot is refreshing and flows well with the world-building and character interaction. It never feels boring to read. The characters are amazing and rival my top 10 characters from The Cosmere. The interaction between the characters and the final twist is what made the book amazing to me.

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is perfect in its pacing, never leaving a moment to feel dull. I enjoyed it so much. It helped me come out of a dreadful reading slump after reading so many bad romance books. This book truly weaves a beautiful narrative with amazing worldbuilding that is further enriched by great characters.

I recommend this book to every fantasy lover.

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Illustration by Aliya Chen

Favorite Quotes

“It’s a common mistake to assume that someone is weak because they are accommodating. If you think this, you might be the type who has no idea how much effort—how much strength—it takes to put up with your nonsense.”

“Never let something trivial, like a sense of humor, get in the way of a good joke.”

“Hello! Would you like to shake meat-appendages?”

“She seemed sorry in the same way a tank commander might be apologetic after destroying your house. He might be in the wrong. But he was still in a tank.”

“It’s often said that nothing fazes people in a big city, and that does tend to be true—to an extent. Big-city people tend to be unfazed by ordinary sorts of strangeness. You don’t give a second glance to the drunk wearing no pants since, well, that’s the third one this week.”

Amazon Blurb

#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings us a gripping story set in the Cosmere universe told by Hoid, where two people from incredibly different worlds must compromise and work together to save their worlds from ruin.

Yumi comes from a land of gardens, meditation, and spirits, while Painter lives in a world of darkness, technology, and nightmares. When their lives suddenly become intertwined in strange ways, can they put aside their differences and work together to uncover the mysteries of their situation and save each other’s communities from certain disaster?

Buy 'Yumi And The Nightmare Painter'

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Illustration by Aliya Chen

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