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August 2, 2019

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski ~ a Review

by MK French

The seventh son of an English family, Simon Grey became a cabin boy on a voyage to Japan in 1620. The ship was involved in a mysterious shipwreck, and he is able to see the yokai, the spirits, and monsters of Japanese mythology. While there had been some trade with English and Dutch ships before, the Tokugawa shogunate is less willing to have these people within the country. The Shogun's main advisor is also a magician interested in the secret of seeing ghosts and yokai and will do whatever it takes to steal the ability from Simon and Oyuki, the daughter of an English merchant that became a samurai years before.

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August 2019; Excalibur Books; 978-1733092104
ebook, print (194 pages); children, fantasy
Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts is a fascinating story that is perfect for middle-grade readers interested in the mythology of other countries. Simon is on a haunted ship and has seen ghosts his entire life. This ability translates to the shadowy world of Japan, where monsters and creatures of myth travel throughout the countryside by night. He is very much a child, frightened of the scary-looking creatures and the adults that point, stare, and threaten. Oyuki can also see the yokai, which is why she is also imprisoned in the castle, and the two escape together. She is a bit more standoffish compared to Simon, who is the reader's entry into this world and country, but that is as much to protect her own secrets as it is her wariness around this stranger.

The travels through feudal Japan are vividly described, and I eagerly went on the adventure with Simon. He was put into dangerous situations that would be terrifying for any child, and he was clever and kind throughout the challenges that he faced. As one of the characters said, Simon is a friend to the yokai, and understands what it's like to be different and hounded for it. Children reading this will definitely be able to sympathize with him, and be on the edge of their seats throughout his travels. This is a start to a series starring Simon, and I look forward to reading the rest of them.

Buy Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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  1. It's a shame this novel would probably be too young for me because I love stories set in historic Japan and this premise sounds quite unique

  2. It's all right to read even with a younger protagonist. I feel like a lot of the middle grade and YA novels have creative ideas in them that are fun to enjoy even as an adult. :)