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 an 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 good-bye to the world of the living forever.
About the Author
I am a writer of novels, lover of books and stalker of amusing blogs.
My hobbies include reading, watching videos of cats on the internet and pondering the vastness of space. Sometimes I worry about the relative insignificance of human beings in the universe, but then I read the average YouTube comment section and I feel like perhaps our minimal impact on the universe at large is not such a bad thing.
I like so many things that listing them all would be silly. Things I like include, but are not limited to; weird animal facts, historical trivia, plush dinosaurs, people inappropriately dressed for Renaissance faires, dad jokes and Mexican food. Things I don’t like include; judging other people for things that make them happy, littering, spoiling the ends of books I have yet to read, and that one Wham! song that every mall plays non-stop during Christmas. You know the one. Please don’t make me say it. Welcome to my blog!
This book took me to the times that I use to watch Japanese anime. I am sorry to say that that this days I rarely do it anymore. It is based on a very rich spiritual world that is so different from the western one and it remind me the first time that I encountered this world - It was in Inuyasha.
But first let talk a little about the plot - the heroin is Saki - 13years old that grow up in the big city - Tokyo. Every year her parents are taking her and her younger brother to the country to visit her grandparents and she used to love this visits. However this visit is different:a) It had been 2 years since her last visit.
b) her grandfather which she loved so much died.
c) In her age as a very young teen she have other things on her mind - like her status with her peers,like get the right brands, and like survival from bulling by joining to leader.
d) the country look to her as provincial puddle. What she used to love seems meaningless especially that her grandpa isn't around anymore.
e) this visit can trample all her affords in building her status, simply because wi fi connection s so poor and she can't react on time to the text messages of her leader friend. (Ans her parents didn't seem to understand her delicate situation , only see a teenager that using her cellular too much.
Her family came to celebrate a very special festival - The Obon festival - it is one of the most important Japanese traditions. People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon and pray for the spirits. For the reason, Obon is an important family gathering time, and many people return to their hometowns. Japanese people clean their houses and place a variety of food offerings such as vegetables and fruits to the spirits of ancestors in front of a butsudan (Buddhist altar). Chochin lanterns and arrangements of flower are usually placed by the butsudan.
On the first day of Obon, chochin lanterns are lit inside houses, and people go to their family's grave to call their ancestors' spirits back home. It's called mukae-bon. In some regions, fires called mukae-bi are lit at the entrances of houses to guide the spirits.
On the last day, people bring the ancestor's spirits back to the grave, hanging chochin painted with the family crest to guide the spirits. It's called okuri-bon. In some regions, fires called okuri-bi are lit at entrances of houses to send the ancestors' spirits.
Also, bon odori (folk dance) is widely practiced on Obon nights. Styles of dance vary from area to area, but usually Japanese taiko drums keep the rhythms. People go to their neighborhood bon odori held at parks, gardens, shrines, or temples, wearing yukata (summer kimono) and dance around a yagura stage. Anyone can participate in bon odori, so join the circle and imitate what others are doing.Styles of dance vary from area to area, but usually Japanese taiko drums keep the rhythms. People go to their neighborhood bon odori held at parks, gardens, shrines, or temples, wearing yukata (summer kimono) and dance around a yagura stage. Anyone can participate in bon odori, so join the circle and imitate what others are doing.Many Obon celebrations include a huge carnival with rides, games, and summer festival food like watermelon
Anyway back to the plot - Usually her grandfather was the priest that was responsible for the maintenance of the local shrine and he did it with a lot of love and care. However, this year very thing look neglected. Even her grandmother isn't the same anymore.
The family started to organize every thing for calling for the ancestors' spirits by lighting a mukae-bi. Her grandmother sent sent her to up the mountain to a grove by the shrine to retrieve a perfect branch of Sakaki trees. But she was lazy and bring back a branch from a dead tree. By this she got cursed with cursed of death. She also opened the portal of the the dead to the world of the living and corrupt the spirit world.
At the same night she started to see out of room a path into the woods. A path wasn't there before and during the day light it disappeared.
Afterword three spirits to approach her. Each one for each night of the Obon festival. Those three spirits, were suppose to help her to reach the midnight price in the castle. The midnight prince was suppose to help her to lift the curse:
1) A Kitsune - Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.
2) A Tengu - type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural beings). The tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination,
3) And a Tanuki - The Japanese Raccoon Dog. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded.
Each night there were forces and spirits that prevent her from accomplish the mission. But Saki never gave up. From a very spoil and self center girl we see how she change and start to respect the old traditions and the old people, care for others, to love the quite and honest life of the country, to develop a back bone and go against bullies and evils and finding a true friendship.
I did enjoy this book very much and I do recommend it - it will take you from the regular realm of fantasy that base it sources on the western culture and expose you to other rich realms. And for this I want to than to Kathryn Tanquary - it was such a pleasure!