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Pulled in different directions by her heart and by family duty, a daughter of the noble Fujiwara clan also has an angry ghost to appease in this busy sequel to Little Sister (1996). Two years after Mitsuko entered the land of the dead in search of her sister's soul, ominous dreams remind her of her vow to repair a small shrine in which she once took refuge. At the same time, her father announces that Mitsuko is to marry an 11-year-old prince. She once again calls on Goranu, the mischievous, immortal shape-changer who fell in love with her. Exchanging insults and tart retorts, the two grow closer as Mitsuko faces a dragon, the shrine's vengeful kami (spirit), and a host of other supernatural beings. Under Goranu's tutelage, Mitsuko learns how to use her wits, and by the end has overcome the treacherous kami, helped engineer the prince's marriage to her sister, and even met Lord Emma-O in the Court of the Dead. More than most sequels, this story relies on knowledge of its predecessor. Dalkey supplies a glossary and historical postscript, but readers unfamiliar with the first book will miss nuances in characters and relationships, and have only a sketchy picture of the 12th-century locales and social patterns. Together, however, the two novels combine a courageous teenager's well-articulated escape from the limits and preconceptions forced on her by a rigid, highly structured upbringing with a colorful, not altogether earnest, series of encounters with powerful beings from Buddhist and Shinto lore.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace