Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

I lived in Japan for a year so was thrilled to find The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn, a YA mystery set during the Tokugawa period. Even better that it's genuinely interesting and well-written. And what's more? It's the first in a series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler.

Seikei is a tea merchant's son who idolizes samurai, but can never be one because they are born, not made. Still, he holds himself to the samurai ideals of honor, loyalty, honesty, courage, and respect. When Seikei witnesses the theft of a jewel and sees a girl unjustly accused, he risks his life to stand up for what is right. This action pairs him in solving the crime with a famous samurai, Judge Ooka. Suddenly, Seikei is surrounded by intrigue: kabuki actors, stolen gems, cowardly samurai, and the all-powerful shogun. 

While the criminal is clear from the beginning, the motive is less obvious and truly educational. This is true historical fiction, yet it never felt too didactic. I love that Ooka is a real historical figure, known as the Sherlock Holmes of Japan. I would love to teach The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn, but know that I don't have to make it a class novel in order for it to be popular. Written for younger readers, this novel will entertain everyone who encounters it. 

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