Graphic Novel Review: Festival of Shadows: A Japanese Ghost Story by Atelier Sento

Festival of Shadows: A Japanese Ghost Story by Atelier Sento. Tuttle, 2023. 9784805317242. 160pp.

Naoko and her friend Katsu are the youngest people (by a lot) at the gatherings of those living with shadows. Each person shares information they’ve learned about the spirit they’re taking responsibility for, and they try to help one another identify who the spirits were when they were alive. (They can talk to their spirit and see them clearly, but no one else can.) Naoko failed her shadow at the village’s festival recently, and she’s already got another spirit she’s trying to help — a sad, quiet young man who’s not revealing much about himself. She has a year, until the next festival, to figure out who he was in life and help him.

It’s a story set in a small town that develops very slowly. Having the shadow follow her around finally gives way to him revealing bits about his life and who he was. As he becomes more and more a part of Naoko’s life, she starts to have feelings for him.

This story is a bit more adult than Atelier Sento’s amazing Onibi, which Tuttle also published in English a few years ago. Note: Naoko is a bit older than she looks at first glance, so I recommend reading this first if you buy it for your library, to decide where to shelve it.


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