The Night Parade

26698476by Kathryn Tanquary
Children’s Lit
4 of 5 stars
Debut novel: January 5, 2016

This book is simply delightful! Full of twists and turns and whimsy, you’ll be transported to rural Japan and Saki’s strange journey in the spirit world. It’s the written version of a Hayao Miyazaki film!

Saki’s family is spending the Obon festival with her grandmother in a rural village—a sharp contrast to their busy city life in Tokyo. Bored with the small village traditions, she tries to impress some local kids by letting them into the graveyard her grandparents manage. Their disrespectful game ends up inviting a death curse on Saki and her family! Saki has to see the Midlight Prince during the Night Parade if she wants to break the curse and save her family, but humans aren’t meant to navigate the treacherous paths of the spirit world. Spirit guides will attempt to help her, but three days isn’t a long time…

At first this seems like a straightforward adventure, perhaps similar to A Christmas Carol. But each time I thought I knew what to expect, I was surprised! Poor Saki faces setbacks at every turn, yet her dogged persistence keeps her on the path to right her mistakes. We meet so many interesting (and at times terrifying!) spirits, and the setting is at once concrete and dreamlike. There were several spirits in particular that made me laugh out loud, and others that made me cringe, but I don’t want to spoil anything!

Saki learns a lot not just about the spirit world, but about the people around her—what makes a real friend, when she should speak up, and the value of family history.

I thoroughly enjoyed this journey; it’s a fun, thrilling debut novel. I look forward to seeing more of this author’s work!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Night Parade is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Risuko by David Kudler – Risuko is a young girl in feudal Japan that just wants to climb. But when a noblewoman spots her and recruits her to her estate, Risuko learns her talents might allow her to become “a very special kind of woman”—one that can change the fate of her nation. See my review here.
  • Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar – Another girl struggling with her family’s past and present identities, Carolina is not thrilled to spend the summer at her grandfather Serge’s ranch in the middle of the desert. But as the family readies the house and property for sale, Serge tells Carolina a fantastical story about a village of people that never died, the tree that gave them life, and bees that brought the rain. Carolina thinks it’s a fairy tale, until bees start following her around too. See my review here.
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