Monster Matsuri (Takeshita Demons 3), by Cristy Burne (Frances Lincoln, 2012, middle grade, 203 pages)
When Miku's family moved from Japan to England (as told in Takeshita Demons, the first book of the series), they didn't, exactly, come alone. Rather, they were attacked a panoply of supernatural beings from home, most of whom, in true demonic fashion, were hostile. Miku, armed by the knowledge passed down by her now deceased grandmother, and her new friend, Cait, must perforce become demon hunters...
And in this third book of the series, there are even more demons to outwit and repress. All demonic heck is breaking out in London, and Miku's little brother, Kazu, has been kidnapped. Miku, Cait, and a boy named Alex (along with his own friendly demon, Akaname (a Filth Licker), must follow crytic clues and foil a plot hatched by one of the most powerful demons of them all...
These books reminded me somewhat of the opening of the Percy Jackson series--a relatively normal kid suddenly being attacked by mythological creatures, and forced to draw on their heritage, and their wits, to survive, in a fast pace series of adventures. And, in much the same way as Percy introduced kids to Greek Mythology, this series is a lovely introduction to the demons of Japan!
These books, however, are, I think, aimed at a slightly younger audience than Percy's adventures--the emphasis is on the action, and less on interpersonal relationships. The protagonists are very much still kids. That being said, Miku is a strong and determined young heroine, the dangers are gripping, and the demons are absolutely fascinating, and come to vivid life. I had no idea where the plot was taking me, and enjoyed the journey very much.
This is one to give to the adventure loving nine or ten year old kid who likes being a little scared--some of the demons are more than somewhat frightening (although there's no goryness). It's a UK series, and at this point in time you probably won't be seeing it in US bookstore, but they are available on line.
The first book of the series was the winner the inaugural 'Diverse Voices' award, which recognizes a manuscript that 'celebrates diversity in its widest possible sense'. And from my grown-up perspective, it is really rather cool to read about demons I know almost nothing about!
Cristy Burne is currently running a cool Monster Prize Competition--details here.
disclaimer: review copy received from the author