Fantasy Book Review | 24 June 2013 | Sandra Scholes

Japan is a country that has the reputation for having the most fairy tales written about it. The fact that most of them are anonymous does not make much difference. The tale of Yuki-Onna, or the white lady, is one of the most famous there is, and along with Furisode and The Peach Boyseem have been the inspiration for this, as well as the spirits of Hagurosan mountain in Japan.


Each chapter is started with a three line haiku which gives the reader a real oriental feel while reading through the events of the story. Hagurosan is a young boy who is asked to go and give an offering of a cake to a shrine the family regularly visit. She gives him the cake, and he sets off begrudgingly to the shrine just as he promised even though he would have rather stayed at home and played. Hagurosan isn’t impressed with having to go, but he knows his mother would normally take the journey and make the offering.


As is usual for these kinds of tales, he has a long journey ahead of him, filled with peril and chance meetings with other characters, but as his mother neglected to pack a lunch to take with him, it isn’t long before he becomes hungry as the roads to the temple are arduous. Taking the cake from his pocket, he nibbles it a bit at a time, and does this at several times during his journey, and by the time he gets to the temple, he has eaten it all. Feeling guilty for having eaten an offering that should have been given to the deity, he thinks he can’t make a wish. While he is busy thinking about what he has done, he starts to see small silver coins everywhere he goes, and picks them up thinking he has done wrong to do that as they may have been left there for the gods. Little does he know what they are really there for, and that is the start of the tale.


Enthusiastic children’s book collectors will notice the cover art on this novel as it also has a special holographic centre piece. The story is about the life of a child who could help all the people in his village, but also he can learn selflessness, but rather than seeing the god’s act of Hagurosan staying at the temple as a punishment, readers can see it as him being made into some kind of guru who helps and steers others, at least in the eyes of the children who follow him. Hagurosan is an easy to read short novel that has a heart-warming ending, and a message that people could help each other in a crisis if they try.


Darren Shan originally got his notoriety from his first published novel in the Cirque du Freak series back in 2000. Since then, his novels have been best sellers worldwide, and this is what started him off as a children’s author. Hagurosan is a tale Darren has specially written for Barrington Stoke as they are a publisher who specialise in printing books for those who have difficulty reading, or those with dyslexia. Children who love his novels had previously written in to ask if Darren would be able to write a book for them, and this is the result. Darren has donated all royalties from the sale of the book to the No Strings International which is a not-for-profit organisation which makes puppet films with educational messages for at-risk children in developing countries. Other books that may be of interest to the young reader are; Demontata, Hell’s Horizon, Zom-B, The City Trilogy, The Thin Executioner and Koyasan.


Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, July 2013



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