Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary

Rating: Delightful
Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Grade Level: 5 - 8
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (January 5, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1492623245
ISBN-13: 978-1492623243
Release Date: 1 January 2016

"I thought you might sleep through it." The creature smiled. Saki's voice was little more than a whisper. "Sleep through what?" It leaned over. She stared into its will-o'-the-wisp eyes. "The Night Parade, of course." 

The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother's village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family's ancestral shrine on a malicious dare. But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked...and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth-or say goodbye to the world of the living forever..."

I was initially drawn to this story as it dealt with Japanese culture and mythology, and it was set in Japan. I am very glad I read this book as it was one of the most delightful and enchanting reads I have had in a very long time.  The story reminded me of old fashioned adventure stories where children go to mythical lands and learn valuable lessons.

The book is set in Japan with Japanese mythology as its main focus, however the story is more complex then that and deals with issues such as trying to balance tradition and modern living, teenagers trying to find their way, and family relationships. IT is done subtly and is part of Saki's journey through the spiritual world.

The writing style is very descriptive and elegant which fit the story perfectly. The Spirit world was fantastical, beautiful and dark which the author captured perfectly. I was swept away with the writing, and felt transported to this world, heck I wanted to visit the world (without the dying and scary spirits part).

The knowledge Tanquary has about Japanese mythology is evident. Having previously studied Japanese culture through school (and watching a lot of anime and reading a lot of manga) I easily recognised the mythological beings and religious/traditional concepts the author introduces. So I was pleased to see these mythological beings come alive on the pages and they kept true to the "nature" of these beings in tradition.

I confess to not particularly liking Saki at the start of the book and it was hard to feel a connection with her, Saki is a modern girl who  is self absorbed and rude. However her journey through the spirit world teaches her some valuable lessons about friendship, history, belief, traditions, dealing with bullies and how to treat people. By the end of the story I was much more invested in her as a character. 

The majority of the supporting characters were spirits that provided the had most of the best lines and were the most enjoyable to read. She had three main guides; the fox, the tengu, and the tanuki. Each had its own distinctive personality which mirrored their mythology persona. Tanuki was probably my favourite being cheeky and fun. But I confess to like the Tengu as well, who reminded me of a spirit version go Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. There were other supporting characters such as Saki's brother, parents, Grandmother and the girl from the village Maeda, but these characters didn't seem as developed or have much development other then to help highlight the lessons Saki learned in the spirit world.

Despite the theme of being supernatural in nature and dealing with spirits, it wasn't very scary at all, and I am a big scardey cat so if I wasn't scared, then it wasn't scary. There is no violence in the book and but there is some dramatic scenes.

My final point is on the cover which is beautiful! I would be lying if I didn't say it was a significant reason as to why I chose this book. The version I read was an ebook but I will be getting a hard cover of this book when it released. I am so glad the story inside was just as lovely as the cover.

I would highly recommend this book to children aged 10 and above, and any adult who enjoys the genre. It is a perfect book to begin learning about Japanese mythology and culture. This book left me feeling happy after reading it, and I closed it with a smile on my face. A rare feel good book, that is just enjoyable.

A copy of this book was provided to me by Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

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