Saturday, 12 June 2010

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne

3rd June 2010, Frances Lincoln
144 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, fantasy

Cushions: 4
Daggers: 2
Smiles: 4
Tears: 2
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary from Frances Lincoln

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?
The winner of the first Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award, this is the first of a new trilogy, Takeshita Demons, with the second, Takeshita Demons: The Filth-Licker due to be published in 2011 and Takeshita Demons: Matsui's Monster in 2012.

Any book involving Japan and I am there, gripping it in my hands. Miku's voice is fun to read, with lots of  humour. School isn't always fun to be in, even if you have good friend. Fortunately Miku has Cait, because discovering her teacher is a demon, isn't something most adults will believe. I think Miku would rather not believe it's happening, but she doesn't have a choice. Whereas in Japan her family was protected by a being in their house, despite the charms used in her new house, that protection no longer exists.

The charms can't stop the world from snowing, an environmental situation which both helps and hinders Miku.  Her brother means the world to her. Her thoughts focus mostly on helping Kazu, and Cait too. Her compassionate nature helps her hang in there when hope has left the building. Keeping everyone safe is her priority.

Along with the suspense and humour, the part which I like most about this story were the Japanese elements. The Japanese words which were used were swiftly followed by translation from Miku, making the Japanese accessible to all readers. It was fun understanding the words before the explanation - so students of Japanese will have fun here.

On another level, the way the drama unfolds will please anime and video game lovers alike. It was so easy to picture it all in my head, especially with the inspiring illustrations. The demons were scary enough in the paragraphs, but when they sat there, literally staring at me up from the page, I wanted to hide behind my cushion. The solutions that Miku comes up with for each problem she faces are inventive. There comes a time when she can't think of what to do. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens!

Cristy Burne has a website all about Takeshita demons and other things. Check it out here.

The best news is that there are two more books about Miku. The worse news? They come out in 2011 and 2012 respectively. I don't like waiting! But I'm sure it will be worth it.

For another Japanese themed adventure, try the Five Lords of Pain series by James Lovegrove, starting with The Lord of the Mountain.

No comments: