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Hideki Smith: Demon Queller

Authored by AJ Hartley with Hisako Osaka and Kuma Hartley
Published by UCLan Publishing

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Caleb considers himself a loser’s loser. He doesn’t fit in anywhere. As the only Japanese American boy in his school, the only person who sort of understands him is his sister – but she’s cool.

A fracking incident in the local mountains wakes up long-imprisoned Japanese demons and as a result Caleb finds out that he’s maybe not as much of a loser as he thought he was. But he needs answers and nobody seems able, or prepared, to give them to him. Luckily, his sister Emily is equally in the dark. Working together they start to find the answers that explain the distance between their Japanese mother and her mother.

Written to help his Japanese American son, AJ Hartley has captured life in a small rural town where animosity lies just under the surface. Most importantly though, he has written an engaging and tension-packed adventure story where ancient Japanese myths clash with modern life and destructive fracking processes.

A pacy, well-constructed adventure, Hideki Smith: Demon Queller is the first in a new Hartley series. Touching on the horror genre without being too horrific, Hartley creates frightening mythological demons that have the capability to ravage the small mining town of East Portersville. Thoroughly enjoyable and engaging, I read this pretty much in one go. A compelling read. Highly recommended for 14 years upwards.