Festival of Shadows -- Mysterious Young Adult Graphic Novel


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Do you like ghost stories? Do you believe in ghosts? Today we are sharing a young adult graphic novel that is a Japanese ghost story. It is called Festival of Shadows: A Japanese Ghost Story by Atelier Sento. It is recommended for grades 8 to 12.

From the Publisher:

**A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
**Recommended by the New York Public Library among its list of '50 Best New Comics for Adults' in 2023

What happens when the living risk their lives to save the souls of the dead?

Every summer, in an isolated Japanese village, a celebration known as the Festival of Shadows takes place. The villagers are entrusted to assist the troubled souls or "shadows" of those who died tragically, and to help them come to terms with their deaths and find eternal peace.

Naoko, a young girl born in the village, is given a year to save the soul of a mysterious young man. She develops strong feelings for her shadow--a handsome young man, an artist--but he seems haunted by a terrible secret. She has a year to find out what happened to him, to help him come to terms with his past, and if she fails, his soul will be lost forever…

As the year goes by, Naoko finds herself teetering between the worlds of the living and the dead. What is the terrible secret that seems to be haunting her shadow? And could she be risking her own life to help someone who has already lost his?

Naoko puts her own life on the line to save the soul of this man she loves, in an exciting, moving and beautifully drawn story that takes the reader on a journey from the beautiful Japanese countryside to glamorous Tokyo art world.

About the Author:

Atelier Sento, the award-winning creative team of Cecile Brun and Olivier Pichard was born out of travels to Japan--of the people they met and the drawings and photographs they brought back. Using mostly traditional techniques such as watercolor, colored pencils and printmaking, they like to share a Japan that's uncommon, removed from stereotypes, a Japan of villages lost in the mountains, of popular festivals and forgotten spirits. For their previous works Atelier Sento have won the Japan International Manga Award, were shortlisted for the 2019 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids' Comics, and received an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Freeman Book Awards for Children's and Young Adult's Literature on East and Southeast Asia.

From Me:

At first, I was a bit confused and found the book a bit hard to get into. Naoko seems confused herself as she goes back and forth to the meeting of the people who help the shadows and her shadow. It is an interesting storyline of introducing ghosts. The people who died tragically become shadows that need people to help them remember their lives and be at peace. The shadows have forgotten everything about themselves. There are more interesting sides to the story of the shadows. Some do not get people and are roaming around the village. They have a festival to burn the extra shadows. 

Naoko is the only young person in the village who is in the group to save the shadows. The elder people in the group seem to be dying off. It will be up to her to continue the saving. It isn't just anyone who can see the shadows and help them. The story takes many twists and turns as she tries to discover who her shadow is and help him. She gets pulled into his world as well. It is really an interesting ghost story.

The pictures share a bit of the views of Japan. It shares a bit of the culture in the story as well. The book takes the reader through Kaoko's year starting with the fall. We see her relationship grow with the shadow throughout the year and watch her slip back and forth into the different worlds. It is an interesting story and great for those who love ghost stories and graphic novels. I hope you will check it out!