I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m writing this a few days after reading it so I might not remember everything as clearly as I usually do in reviews. This was a nice read. It didn’t pull me all the way in but it got close at points.
Basically, Alley is a practicing witch who has moved to Japan because her dreams told her to, but she keeps seeing spirits there. Many of whom are dangerous. She meets some people like her new roommate, Hannah, and two coworkers, Devan and Jade. Together they have to deal with hauntings and ghost stalkings. A lot of Japanese folklore is brought up in this book, whether it’s mentioned briefly or used as a main plot point. I do like Japanese mythology, so I enjoyed hearing about the different spirits and even knew some of them right away.
Sometimes not much happened with them which left me with some questions about why they appeared. It did explain why Alley could see the ghosts suddenly, but it didn’t really explain why they all seemed to be in one spot. But, that’s not really a big deal.
There were some errors.
Sugi wa Awaza.
Should be “tsugi”.
Jade was n never…
…Devan a and Jade…
…depths of h her…
Alley hadn’t quite make it in time.
Then I got a bit confused because in Japanese “kaeru” is “frog” and it can also be “to return”, but it kept saying “kaerou”. That works as a conjugation for “to return” (it would be “Let’s return” or something that effect) but not for “frog”.
There were also some inconsistencies.
“This place does good ramen, it’s got a TV, and even better, a drinks vending machine. Trust me, you’ll want the drink,” she said.
“You think it’s that spicy?” Devan scoffed. “Seriously?”
Little things like this. She mentioned a lot of things, but never mentioned anything about it being spicy, so while I was reading I did a double-take.
I don’t have too much to say. I generally enjoyed it enough to keep reading without a problem, and there were a few spots I was really drawn in, but it didn’t captivate me as much as some other books. I’m not sure I can exactly pinpoint why. There’s nothing terrible I have to say about it, either. There were a couple things that may have been too much (too many spirits mentioned, or like with Devan and his weapons). Those parts could feel likes they were just listing Japanese words.
We also do find out the ghost haunting a teapot is the ghost of a murderer, but I still didn’t feel like I had enough explanation. Alley found an article and learned the very basics of his crime, but I don’t recall there being much explanation of his motive or what happened. (I know he apparently drowned someone but I mean who were they? Why did he drown them? How were they connected to him?) I understand the idea that in Japan spirits can be resentful and lash out at anyone, even people totally unrelated to what happened, but I felt like I needed more of a “why” explanation. The nukekubi didn’t need much of an explanation because feeding on humans is just what it does, but the ghost was of a previous person and people need some sort of motivation. I didn’t come away feeling like I understood why he murdered people while he was alive.
I did like in the end that they used a ghost from England to defeat spirits from Japan. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was great that there was some brief acknowledgment of other folklore.
Thinking on it now, usually I tell people these days that they split up one book into many unnecessarily, but this is a series that’s probably the opposite. Instead of having so many spirits crammed into one book just to make brief appearances, it would be good to have a story revolving around different ones in different books. There’s a lot to work with. I could easily imagine Alley trying to deal with something like a series of attacks by Kuchisake-Onna.
Overall it came together. If you have any interest in folklore, particularly in Japanese spirits, you’ll probably enjoy this book. I probably got more distracted by things like the Japanese than some other people would because it stuck out to me when it was wrong.
I give it a 8/10.