The Night Parade by Kathryn TanquaryFormat: Hardcover
Release Date: January 5th, 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
First Line: "From the back seat, Saki sent another desperate message on her phone."
Saki is on the way to visit her grandmother's village with her family, yet she would've rather stayed in Tokyo spending time with her friends shopping in the city and talking about boys. Instead, she's stuck in the middle of nowhere, without even proper cell reception celebrating the Obon Festival (a Japanese festival of souls or a time when the spirits of one's ancestor visit their relatives and their family leave offerings and clean the gravestones.) The whole thing just makes Saki sad, now that her grandfather won't be there to celebrate with them. While at the festivities in town, Saki takes a moment to wander off to sneak in some needed cell phone time and runs into a few local kids, who goad her into going up to her families graveyard. While there, they pressure her to ring a bell as a punishment for a game that they had been playing. Saki hesitantly agrees, until she realizes that by ringing the bell, she might just have set a death curse into action and her only hope of stopping it is to walk with three spirit guides along the night parade to the shrine at the top of the mountainside.
At first, it's really hard to feel sorry for Saki. She seemed pretty self-absorbed and takes the importance of family traditions for granted, even cutting corners on some of the tasks that her grandmother asks for help with for the festival. Yet, as Saki started to feel the consequences of her choice to ring the bell, she also seemed to grow and change. She starts to realize what is important to her and I really started to like her more. The Night Parade included Japanese mythology, and I liked how there was a balance of familiar things like Jonken (a Japanese version of rock, paper, scissors) and Kokkun-san (a game similar to Ouija board) as well as all the lovely references to Japanese foods. There were also some Japanese words that I was able to figure out from the context of the sentence. I really enjoyed learning more about the Obon Festival and the Night Parade, the three spirit guides kinda reminded me of A Christmas Carol, minus the refrences to the past present and future. Yet, each one does help Saki learn a little bit more about herself and especially about the true meaning of friendship. Overall, a very fun and enjoyable read.