The House of the Lost on the Cape

Yonder. Sept. 2023. 224p. Tr $18. ISBN 9781632063373.
Gr 3-7–On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck near the coast of Tohuku, Japan, causing a subsequent tsunami; over 20,000 people died. In this lightly magical novel, three women from different generations are brought together in the aftermath: an orphaned girl, a woman fleeing an abusive marriage, and an elderly grandmother with no immediate family. The three women, with new names, decide to live together, posing as Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter, each wanting to escape something of their past. The young girl, Hiyori, is mute after experiencing trauma, and Yui lives in fear of her husband finding her. Elderly Obachan protects them in the old house on the cape, and tells them folktales of a “lost house” that can move and feed its inhabitants. When something mysterious begins attacking pets, including their cat, Kofuku, it appears Obachan’s stories may be more than folktales, and a terrible sea snake may destroy their town of Kitsunezaki. The sea snake, Agame, is said to feed on dark thoughts, feasting on the inhabitants’ survivor’s guilt and grief. Yui, Hiyori, and Obachan receive help from river spirits, lion-dogs, and flying guardian statues in their quest to save the town, and ultimately, themselves. The story unfolds in flowing language, and the black-and-white drawings sweetly accompany the mystical tale. Hiyori’s desire to find her voice and save her new family unfolds beautifully and will be treasured by many.
VERDICT Kashiwaba’s novel was originally published in serialized form in 2014, with an anime film adaptation in 2021 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the tragedy; this English translation will reach even more young fans of Japanese fantasy and found-family stories.

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