Over the last few years, there’s been an onslaught of new books like Percy Jackson but focusing on the mythology of various cultures written by authors from those very same cultures. It’s a trend I absolutely love, and the latest was Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind by Misa Sugiura. This Japanese-inspired story is filled with action, friendship and plenty of emotion.
Momo Arashima has just turned 12, and she’s at the bottom of the popularity list at school. She’s always seen things she shouldn’t and is made fun of because of it. But one day, she’s attacked and discovers that her Mum is a Shinto goddess and is dying. To save her life, Momo will have to close the path to Yomi and stop danger from taking over the world. Fortunately, she’s not alone and has a talking fox called Niko, and her former best friend, Danny, to help.
I knew a scattering of the creatures and legends in this book. I’m not all that knowledgeable about Japanese myths. Still, it’s something I definitely enjoy reading up on every now and then. This book would be an accessible way to get started if you’re a kid looking to get into different myths. Like Percy Jackson or Aru Shah, this is a funny, action-packed contemporary story that utilises and modernises legends perfectly. It’s an enjoyable read, but you still feel like you’re learning something. There’s even a glossary at the back with information on the different creatures and gods mentioned, including how to pronounce their names. I was getting them right while reading it, but it was still nice to go back and double-check.
My favourite aspect of this book was the friendship and found-family element. Momo and Danny both have difficult aspects in their home life for various reasons. Danny is Japanese but was adopted by a white family. With that, he doesn’t really have much understanding of his own culture. I think that might resonate with kids reading this who have also been adopted outside of their culture. Danny’s parents seem to love him, but his home life isn’t the best. And then you have Momo, who lost her Dad and now has to look after her Mum. But as these two get to know each other again, they see they can lean on each other. That family can be where you find it, and I loved that.
That said, this book can get pretty emotional. Momo is very angry, and some things in this book add to that. Momo doesn’t want to lose herself to her anger, but she really has to fight. There are hints of betrayal, and you really do feel for her. But she pushes past all that and does her best. She really was a great protagonist.
There were some twists that I didn’t see coming near the end, and I can’t wait to see where the next book is going. Momo is really going to have to look out for herself and keep up her training! That’s for sure.
Overall, this was a super fun book, and I think it’s a great read, no matter what age you are. But the intended audience is definitely going to love it.
Title: Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind
Author: Misa Sugiura
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology
Age Range: Middle grade (8-12)
Release Date: Out Now!