Sora, a kami spirit and heir to the kingdom in Mt. Fuji, planned to ask her parents for more duties and training on her 17th birthday. But everything changed when the ghost nation attacked.
With her parents and loved ones captured, Sora learns of a prophecy that turns her world even further upside down. The daughter of Mt. Fuji’s rulers is destined to gather the three kami-blessed treasures – the sword, the mirror, and the jewel – to defeat the demon who leads the ghosts, rescue the kami, and restore balance to the world.
The trouble is, she is not that daughter.
Sora is actually a human, switched with the true daughter to protect her identity from enemies. Now Sora must find Chiyo, the girl she switched lives with, convince her that she is a kami, help her acquire the blessed treasures, and fight thousands of ghosts – all while struggling with the fact that her entire life up to this point has been a lie. Sora must come to terms with her newfound mortality and the loss of her kami powers in a desperate race against the clock to save her family.
Megan Crewe’s newest young adult novel has a little Japanese mythology, a lot of action, and a touch of romance. The character design and development of Sora is excellent – her emotional and physical changes are honest and realistic, showing her pain and frustration, but also determination to save her loved ones regardless of her heritage lie. There is a love triangle, but it’s one that doesn’t make you pull your hair out, and leaves all three parties with dignity intact. I also appreciated the use of modern technological advances like computers and public transportation.
There wasn’t nearly as much actual mythology as I wanted. Though many readers may already be aware of what kami are, the myth was lacking for readers without that background knowledge. I came in with a very basic understanding of the spirits, but I wanted to know more about how they are different from the ghosts they fought, and in what ways they are important to Japanese culture.
Also, a few of the characters don’t have much personality – we never get to know any other kami very well, and Chiyo’s boyfriend Haru was a real Gary Stu (or perhaps Gary Haru?). Stylistically, the writing also felt much slower than the level of action would indicate, which threw me off. It was hard to get caught up in the scenes sometimes because of few and far-between descriptions.
Despite its flaws, I definitely recommend A Mortal Song and will be looking into Megan Crewe’s other novels as well. If you love Japanese culture, and you’re looking for a book that is more entertaining than illuminating, this will be a great one to pick up. Anime and manga fans who prefer a little realism mixed in with their fantasy will adore this creative take on kami myth. If you enjoy Amanda Sun’s novels, this is one you shouldn’t miss. Be sure to special order it from your local indie bookstore!
3.5 out of 5 stars
Amber Neva Brown is Inventory Manager at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC and a Masters graduate in Publishing at Rosemont College. She grew up on the Outer Banks, and her ultimate fandoms are Harry Potter and Doctor Who. She could recommend a book to probably anyone. Find her on Twitter at @ambernevabrown and on Instagram at @isnotacrayon.