Tessa Miyata Is No Hero

Little, Brown. Aug. 2023. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316448529.
Gr 4-7–Meet Tessa Miyata, the definitely-cursed protagonist of Abe’s (“Eva Evergreen”) new middle grade series. Gran sends Tessa to spend the summer after sixth grade with Obaachan and Ojiichan in Japan. Tessa has always had extraordinarily bad luck (which surely doesn’t have anything to do with her invisible kitsune charm bracelet) but when she and Jin, a neighbor boy, find themselves the last line of defense against the manifestation of an ancient samurai keen on absorbing all the life-force in Tokyo, her misfortune may turn deadly. Secret identities, lost memories, legendary warriors, and mythical creatures abound in Takamagahara, the City of Legends. Abe balances humor, action, and identity in this first series installment. Kit, the (potentially) powerful kitsune, provides delightful banter as a quest guide for Tessa and Jin. While Tessa’s story will feel familiar to seasoned fantasy readers, she is notable in her choices and perseverance; Tessa is willing to do what needs to be done, even when the (literal) gods won’t. This blending of chance and choice makes Tessa a lovable and inspiring heroine. A rich Japanese glossary and small illustrations supplement the text well. This is a great series starter and an easy recommendation for fans of myths, legends, and fantasy-adventure.
VERDICT Action with myth and heart. Recommended as a general purchase.

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