I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
In case you didn't already know, I'm a crazed Miyazaki fan. It's the enchanting mix between reality and fantasy, plus the reminder of our deep connection to the world around us, that always captures me. So you can imagine my delight when I realized that Kathryn Tanquary had done the same thing, but in book form. I was transported to a small town in Japan. One where the old ways are still honored, and the veil between the world of spirits and the world of living is thin. A place of magic. This was absolutely wonderful, and I hope you're prepared for some gushing!
Let me get this out of the way straight off, and admit that I didn't like Saki for a good portion of this book. It becomes apparent, pretty quickly, that it's supposed to be that way. It took me a while to separate my adult self, from my childhood self, and realize that MG fiction generally needs to be pretty polarized in terms of character growth. Saki had to start out selfish, stubborn and mildly unbearable because, as the book progresses, she slowly loses all of those traits. A Middle Grade reader would see that, and accept it as fact. People who start out terrible in books, don't stay terrible forever. I needed to remember that, even though I do think she could have been a bit less grating. I'm warning you, because you'll need to remember it too. Trust me, it's worth it.
Now that we've addressed that, on to the gushing! The way that Saki was taught her lessons, and the way that she grew, was my absolute favorite part of this story. During Obon, it is said that the barrier between the living and the spirit world is the thinnest. Traditions are upheld, to honor the dead and keep the spirit world pure. Tanquary took this concept, and wove a whole magical world on the other side of the veil. A world with trickster foxes, terrifying monsters, and ogres with a soft side. A world that was beautiful, but also dangerous. I fell into that world head first, and I was enraptured. I want to see this made into a movie so much! Being part of the Night Parade was intoxicating.
As the story moves forward, and Saki becomes a heroine in her own right, things just got better and better. I couldn't stop reading. My eyes were glued to the page as Saki met wave after wave of fascinating and terrible creatures. I held my breath as she scaled walls, fended off the darkness, and grew ever closer to her goal. I'm not even the target audience for this book, and I felt the magic roiling off of the pages. This book is brilliant. It's addictive. Middle Grade readers are going to love it.