Shvoong | 19 October 2006 | Arthur Chappell

Shan took a break from his darker horror stories for children to pen this delightful, but creepy ghost story for World Book Day 2006. With a folklore feel, a community is torn apart by the theft of a child’s soul. Only one young girl can save the day. Koyasan is a young girl who lives in a village bordering an ancient cemetery. Though reputed to be haunted by evil spirits, and shunned at night. the cemetery is a playground for children from the village during the day. Koyasan, however, is scared of the cemetery and cannot bring herself to cross the bridge that leads into it. One night, her own younger sister runs away from her, and enters thecemetery. She comes out again, but the spirits in the cemetery have stolen her soul. She is doomed to die at first light if Koyasan can’t overcome her phobias and go to the rescue of her sister’s soul. Koyasan goes, advised by the village wise-woman. She faces three terrible demons that try to stop her. One for example shares Koyasan’s reluctance to have clothes messed up, and flees when she pulls buttons off his suit of clothes. Her hot breath melts a snow monster. A heavy-headed pyramid monster bows gracefully to her but finds that it is too top heavy so it topples over. She thus outwits each of the demons, but when a skeletal mouse that she has largely ignored, bites her, she makes a noise. That is not allowed and the spirits beg Koyasan to stay forever, being swapped for her sister. Koyasan offers a different bargain. She will be their friend, and find out news of their descendants, and how the World of the living is going on, creating a bond of loyalty between living and dead. The spirits agree, and soon, the whole village, and then the world become friends with the dead. Eventually, Koyasan sickens and dies herself, but she is happy in the world of the spirits now. _ A lovely tale about overcoming the fear of unknowns like death.

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