I know, I’m killing it! It’s only February and I’ve already knocked over four out of my goal of twelve books from my TBR shelf for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017! Today’s book is also going to count toward my progress in the PopSugar Reading Challenge in category #17, a book involving a mythical creature. You can check out my progress toward all of my reading challenges here.
Today’s book is the titular book in Cristy Burne’s middle grade Takeshita Demons series, and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Miku Takeshita and her family have moved from Japan to live in the UK, but unfortunately the family’s enemy demons have followed them! Miku knows she’s in trouble when her new supply teacher turns out to be a Nukekubi – a bloodthirsty demon who can turn into a flying head and whose favourite snack is children. That night, in a raging snowstorm, Miku’s little brother Kazu is kidnapped by the demons, and then it’s up to Miku and her friend Cait to get him back. The girls break into their snow-locked school, confronting the dragon-like Woman of the Wet, and outwitting the faceless Nopera-bo. At last they come face to face with the Nukekubi itself – but will they be in time to save Kazu?
Ten Second Synopsis:
Miku, who loved hearing stories of Yokai from her Baba, has moved to England with her family. When a disappearing visitor knocks on the door, Miku is thrust into a dangerous situation, as Yokai of all types begin troubling the Takeshita family.
Time on the TBR Shelf:
Close to a year
I picked up the first three in this series from the Library Cast-offs bookshop at Nundah, because they featured Yokai and I hadn’t heard of them before.
Reason I haven’t read it yet:
A misguided belief that I would have to read all three in the series one after the other.
- These are by an Australian author – yippee!
- If you are a fan of fantasy and mild horror for middle grade readers, then this should be a delightfully dangerous change of pace, featuring, as it does, monsters from the rich and complex mythology of Japan. This opening book alone includes a nukekubi (a demon that can detach its head at night and send it out hunting), an amazake-baba (a demon that takes the shape of an old woman but brings sickness and disease if you let her in) and even some murderous curtains. And that’s not the half of it.
- If you are on the lookout for books featuring characters from diverse backgrounds, Miku and her family are Japanese, living in England. There are plenty of Japanese words and descriptions of various customs scattered throughout, as well as a glossary of the demons that appear in the story at the end of the book.
- The plot is deliciously creepy without being outright scary and so is perfectly suitable for younger readers. As an adult reader I found it a fast and fun romp with a few spine-shiver-inducing elements. Even though the protagonists are female, the action and monsters should appeal to young male readers also, making this a book that should be a winner for everyone!
- It’s illustrated! Throughout the book there are single page illustrations that help to bring the monstrous demons to life.
- It’s only reasonably short. I read it over about three days in short bursts, so it’s not an overwhelming read for independent young readers.
Less Impressive Bits:
- I had a few cringes at the plotting at some points. The heroines do overcome the demons at the end, but have a bit of help that comes along in quite a handy fashion. There are obviously parts of this book, such as the references to the Takeshita’s house-spirit back in Japan, and the allusions to the powers inherited by the female line of the family, that will be expanded on further in later books in the series. This didn’t bother me too much, because I already have the next two stories in my possession, but may be an sticking point for someone reading this as a standalone story.
- The author has a tendency to throw in apparently random occurences here and there, such as the noppera-bo (faceless ghost) and the yuki-onna (woman of the snow). These characters don’t end up having much to do with the story, so either they’ve been introduced to give the reader an idea of the variety of Japanese spirits getting around the place, or they might play a part in later books. Either way, their inclusion did amount to a number of red-herrings that ended up being a bit annoying because I wanted to know what their role in the story was going to be.
On reflection, was this worth buying?
Yes. In fact I’m glad I’ve got the first three because I can continue the story at my leisure. I’ll probably end up buying the fourth book before the year’s out too. Reading them will also give me a good chance to use my brand new Yokai encyclopedia – yipee!
Where to now for this tome?
To the permanent shelf, to await its brethren.
Can I just say how much I’m enjoying the TBR challenge this year? I feel really motivated to get those books that I bought with such excitement off the TBR shelf and into my brain, via my optic nerves.
Until next time,