Hannah’s Winter, by Kierin Meehan (fiction) – Japanese ghosts, ancient puzzle mysteries

book cover of Hannah's Winter by Kierin Meehan published by Kane MillerWinter in Japan.
Hot Australia far away.
Ghosts throwing donuts?

A mystery in the snow-shrouded town of Kanazawa is not what Hannah expected when she came to Japan. High school for her, horticultural field study for her mum, and then a ghost who tosses donuts and writes on Hannah’s mirror with sunscreen??

The town’s winter festivals and historic sites draw Hannah and her new Japanese friends Miki and Hiro further and further into a ancient mystery.

Dire visions foretold by three old women and dragons hidden in plain sight – could they be relevant to the task that “the ocean boy” begs them to accomplish? Dive into the puzzles of Hannah’s winter in Japan at your local library or independent bookstore.

Book info: Hannah’s Winter / Kierin Meehan. Kane Miller, 2009. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Recommendation: Going to school in Japan instead of starting high school in Australia with her friends worries Hannah; her height and auburn hair will really make her stand out. But a mysterious message from the past sends her exploring her new city quickly.

Her host-father translates the ancient kanji on the fragile paper – it’s a puzzle, asking the finder to “help the ocean boy” by following the cryptic instructions. After “the first snowfall,” Hannah, host-sister Miki, and neighbor Hiro travel to “the temple of secrets” and see a vision from the past!

A boisterous ghost in the house, donuts tossed in the air, messages on her mirror, that recurring dream of the tunnel, a house of cards… Hannah finds they’re all pieces of the puzzle (except the donuts). A suit of samurai armor is delivered to Miki’s shop and puffs out incense with no fire. Japanese school is interesting, but waiting until time to “go at sunrise to wake the dragon” is hard.

Why has the “ocean boy” chosen Hannah to help him finish his task from the past? Is the man suddenly appearing all over their neighborhood “the one who does not want the boy to go”? And why has the samurai armor’s incense smoke changed from blue to yellow?

You’ll get peeks into modern Japanese culture as well as older folktales and traditions as you visit Kanazawa’s festivals and parks with Hannah, Miki, and Hiro to solve the mystery before it’s too late for “the ocean boy.”(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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