Temple Alley Summer
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"Kazu knows something odd is going on when he sees a young girl in a white dress sneak out of his house in the middle of the night--was he dreaming? Did he see a ghost? Things get even stranger when he shows up to school the next day to see the very same figure sitting in his classroom. No one else thinks it's weird, and, even though Kazu doesn't remember ever seeing her before, they all seem convinced that the ghost-girl Akari has been their friend for years!
When Kazu's summer project to learn about Kimyo Temple draws the meddling attention of his mysterious neighbor Ms. Minakami and his secretive new classmate Akari, Kazu soon learns that not everything is as it seems in his hometown. Kazu discovers that Kyoto Temple is linked to a long forgotten legend about bringing the dead to life, which could explain Akari's sudden appearance--is she a zombie or a ghost?
Kazu and Akari join forces to find and protect the source of the temple's power. An unfinished story in a magazine from Akari's youth might just hold the key to keeping Akari in the world of the living, and it's up to them to find the story's ending and solve the mystery as the adults around them conspire to stop them from finding the truth."
Temple Alley Summer is a standalone fantasy MG novel written by Sachiko Kashiwaba, translated by Avery Adagawa and with illustrations by Miho Satake.
I will be honest, I borrowed this from my library thinking that it was a graphic novel and it wasn't. I didn't return it because I saw that a reviewer said that it had Ghibli vibes which was promising. Overall though, while I didn't think this was bad, it was still just a meh story.
The writing, possibly because it was a middle-grade, just wasn't at the level of depth and detail I am used to as I read mainly YA and adult. This would be better suited for those who are in the appropriate age bracket. As for the plot, I just didn't connect to it even though it brought forth interesting discussions about life and death.
I felt like the two plotlines didn't really connect very well. The one side follows a girl who was brought back to life through a temple, and the other follows a fictional story. While there was a connection between the two, it just didn't seem cohesive and felt like two different stories instead of one. I also enjoyed one more so over the other which decreased my enjoyment level.
I would say that if you go into this with the expectation that you are going to be getting something along the lines of a Ghibli film, then you may be disappointed. Instead, I would say that this is more for fans of fairy tales because the fictional story aspect wrote a lot like one.