By Kathryn Tanquary
Available now from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Saki Yamamoto has the three nights of the night parade to put things right after she accidentally calls down a death curse. Not properly finishing a game of Kokkuri-san might be the best thing that's happened to her, because each night one of the three spirits (all tricksters) she's called comes to guide her.
THE NIGHT PARADE draws heavily on Japanese folklore and Shinto beliefs to tell both a mythical quest and one girl's dawning maturity. At the beginning of the story, Saki can be quite trying. She rejects genuine friendship to pursue the acceptance of bullies and grumbles about chores and listening to her grandmother's stories. She's a city girl in the boonies and wants everyone to know she's not happy about it.
Of course, it is her bad attitude, laziness, and lack of care during the Obon preparations that helps invite an evil spirit in.
She shapes up almost inordinately fast, but I can't complain too much since it made THE NIGHT PARADE a more enjoyable experience for me. I enjoyed seeing Saki come up with clever solutions to her problems and learn to truly listen and empathize with others. It did help that she was learning these things through fantastical interactions with the spirit world.
THE NIGHT PARADE is a thrilling tale about the power of tradition and the value of respect. I particularly liked the touch of Saki growing closer to her grandmother. If you'd like to read THE NIGHT PARADE to coincide with Obon, it occurs either July 13 through 15 or August 13 through 15 depending on which calendar you follow.