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Darren Shan - Koyasan (2006)

M brought this home part-read from school and would not talk to me until it was finished, when she said it was the best book ever and commanded me to read it. Who am I to disobey?

Koyasan is afraid of the spirits of the graveyard, and so allows her younger sister to have her soul stolen by the spirits. Determined to make good her terrible mistake and rescue her sister's soul, she finally faces her fear and the spirits. Ultimately she persuades the spirits they are good chaps after all, and would be far happier partying than scaring people. So parties with the spirits become a regular feature of village life while Koyasan grows up, marries, has children and eventually dies. Being a spirit is fun, apparently.

I can't remember what children's books I was reading when I was not-quite-ten, or what I thought of any of them. The only books in my memory keyed to the house I was living in at the time are both adult: Hole in Heaven by F. Dubrett Fawcett (published 1954) and Papillon by Henri Charriere. So my memory is playing tricks anyway because we left the house in 1968 and Papillon wasn't published until 1970.

So I have no idea if Koyasan is any good or not. But as the mother of a daughter I'm glad that it's Koyasan who gets to make all the decisions, and boys are barely mentioned.

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Caroline M

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