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The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary

The Night Parade

by Kathryn Tanquary

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"The Night Parade" tells the story of an unsympathetic teenager, Saki, who learns to care about others after being unwittingly cursed and spending three nights visiting the spirit world. I actually found the everyday-world portions of the book more interesting and affecting than the fantasy; they were well-written and gave great depth to Saki's character arc, rather than letting her quest do all the work of teaching her. However, the fantasy had interesting cultural twists to it that made it just different enough from what the average American reader is probably used to. Many reviewers have compared this book to Miyazaki's films, and it would definitely make a great movie. ( )
  quaintlittlehead | Dec 27, 2017 |
My original review was posted to my blog at: http://www.literaryfeline.com/2016/01/bookish-thoughts-night-parade-by.html

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2016
Fantasy (Middle Grade); 320 pgs
Source: NetGalley

I do not often read books that fall into the Middle Grade category, but this one intrigued me--and it came recommended by my friend and fellow blogger, Caspette of Narrative Causality. It was the setting (Japan) and the mention of Japanese mythology that convinced me to give it a try.

Saki is not happy about having to leave Tokyo and her friends to spend her break with her paternal grandmother. There is nothing exciting or worthwhile about spending time in a small village, preparing for an outdated ceremony like Obons, or so she believes. While in an effort to impress the village in-crowd, Saki bends to peer pressure and comes away from the experience embarrassed and bearing a death curse. She has three nights to lift it. Three nights, three spirit guides, and the Night Parade of spirits traveling to the ancestral burial site is nothing Saki has ever experienced before.

What a delightful book The Night Parade turned out to be! I loved every minute of it. I lost myself in the pages and wished I could join Saki on her adventures through the spirit world. The vivid descriptions, the sometimes quirky and always interesting characters, and the world Kathryn Tanquary has created had me under their spell as I read this novel. The story may seem simple on the surface, but it is quite complex when you look at it more closely.

Saki is about twelve or thirteen years old, I think, and on the verge of becoming a teenager and yet still with the innocence of childhood. Like many young and old, Saki is struggling to figure out who she wants to be, having to deal with peer pressure, family obligations, and being true to herself. She is also seeking to find balance between the old and the new: tradition/spiritual and modern times. Each of the obstacles Saki encounters along her path to life, including the curse, help her learn more about herself and choose the direction she wants her life to go.

The mythical beings and spirits are part of what make this novel such a great book, in my mind. I do not know much about Japanese mythology, but this book made me curious enough to do some research. I quite enjoyed getting a glimpse into this part of Japanese culture, finding it both fascinating and humbling.

As you can tell, I was quite taken with The Night Parade. I even read parts to my daughter, when she was willing to listen. I can see her reading it when she's older--and me again too.

( )
  LiteraryFeline | Nov 25, 2017 |
When I first heard of this book I was super excited about it. I love Middle Grade books that try to introduce various cultures to young readers and this one definitely does that with Japanese culture and traditions.

The Night Parade follows a young girl, Saki, as she is forced to visit her grandmother and participate in the Obon ceremony. While she is there she gets herself into a lot of trouble with the ancestors and has a death curse put on her and the family. The plot follows her as she has three nights to make things right. To do so she is guided by three spirits in the spirit realm.

This book reminded me a a few things - first off , our main character is a brat - she is not very likable and the story leads the reader through her experiences as she is learning how she should be a better person. That being said, it had the feel of A Christmas Carol, with the three spirit guides and the becoming a better person aspects. It also reminded me a lot of Spirited Away, but that might just have been because it was about the spirit realm and Japanese.

I really enjoyed the plot of the book and the auxiliary characters like the guides and the spirits that Saki meets. Although, I really didn't like her and even after her 'transition' so to speak I still really didn't learn to love her as a main character. I was rooting for her the whole time but only because her actions impacted others. I found her to be brash and annoying more often than not.

This tale was a wonderful one for cultural references and learning about the Japanese culture. The fantasy was beautifully constructed and portrayed and regardless of if I like the characters, I think Middle Grade readers will really enjoy this novel.
( )
  sszkutak | Sep 28, 2016 |
**I got a copy of this book from Goodread's giveaways in exchange for an honest review**

I really, really liked this book. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I picked it up, but I ended up reading it all in one sitting. The culture was great, the story telling was great, the character was great. A good, good book. I would recommend it, for sure. 4.5 out of 5 stars. ( )
  Beammey | Jul 23, 2016 |
Really...odd. And fairly clunky as far as pacing and storyline go. I wanted to slap the main character, Saki, most of the time--such a brat. And the author had a weird habit of using the translations of Japanese words for almost everything (grandma, bean-paste sweets, fox, noodles), but not for geta or tanuki. Saki felt more like an American schoolgirl on vacation in Japan than a Japanese schoolgirl--the story would have been more believable, for me, if she HAD been visiting the country. Mediocre.
  LibraryGirl11 | Feb 3, 2016 |
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When thirteen-year-old Saki Yamamoto unintentionally invokes a death curse, she must enter the dangerous spirit world at the Night Parade and attempt to perform deeds that can break the curse.

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