I had to read this book for English. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it was fairly easy to read. It is loosely set in feudal Japan, utilising customs, places and names. Lian Hearn is a psuedonym for the children's author and playwright Gillian Rubenstein.
It won the 2004 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, which is a German award for outstanding children's literature. I really like Kaede's perspective in the book, a typical damsel in distress who is used as a pawn. It was really interesting and her character was thoroughly explored. The ending is surprising which made me appreciate it just that little bit more.
Yay for ClareBear's wonderful summary!