When an ancient evil follows Miku’s family from Japan to London, the teen tries to remember what her grandmother said about yokai - good and bad demons - before she died, but it may be too late.
Back home near Osaka, her Baba knew how to keep evil spirits away from their family’s old house with its sakabashira pillar. Since the ancient pole was accidentally installed top down, it drew in bad demons like a magnet. Thankfully, Baba’s Baba had attracted a good ghost to the house many years before; Zashiko kept the family safe for generations, and Baba kept adding layers of luck and protection.
But when the Takeshitas left their home to come to England, they left their safety behind. Without Zashiko as a shield, the bad demons are ready to take revenge on the family for blocking their way to the sakabashira pillar. Despite all Miku’s efforts to protect them as Baba did, a malicious yokai has entered their apartment and stolen her baby brother’s health and perhaps his spirit as well.
Miku needs to talk to her best friend Cait, but a substitute teacher is intent on keeping them apart. Why does Mrs. Okuda’s neck have all those tiny red Japanese characters tattooed across it? That reminds Miku of Baba’s stories about nukekubi demons who look like normal people until their screaming heads fly off their bodies at night.
A sudden blinding snowstorm sends Miku and Cait home early from school, only to find that Mum had gone to the emergency room, leaving a neighbor watching sick baby Kazu until Miku was home. Cait’s dad comes to pick her up at the same moment that Cait’s dad calls on the phone to make sure she’s staying overnight with Miku – what?? Is this another demon? Oh, no, where is Kazu? He was sleeping on the couch when the doorbell rang? And what’s that sinister face up in the snow clouds?
Miku and Cait decide that the nukekubi must have taken Kazu and struggle through the snowstorm back to school, back to the fake Mrs. Okuda, back to find Kazu and rescue him from the evil yokai.
This adventure story takes unexpected turns as we meet unfamiliar enemies and cheer for Miku and Cait to prevail over evil. First in a series from this Australian author.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA