Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner is the first book in the Spirit’s Princess series. It also expands the Princesses of Myth series/chronicles. It is set in Japan and features a map to help give a visual of where Himiko goes. This is the synopsis on the cover flap:
Himiko shouldn’t have a care in the world. As the daughter of the most powerful man in the Matsu clan, she has her every need catered to. But Himiko isn’t like other girls. She doesn’t want to gossip and play silly games. She’s much rather learn how to hunt and forage in the woods like the boys. So time and again Himiko sets out on her own adventures to prove what she can do. Sometimes she connects to the natural ways that thrill and frighten her. (Can she really communicate with the forest animals?) And one time Himiko loses her way, yet meets a new clan and gains a best friend.
Back home, Himiko is as unsettled as ever . . . until her mother enlists the help of the clan’s shaman, Yama. Himiko must receive her shaman lessons in secret–if anyone, especially her austere father, found out about the lessons and Yama’s vision of Himiko as future clan leader, the consequences would be severe. Suddenly, Himiko’s path is very clear . . . and dangerous.
She is a strong young heroine. Himiko has to go through a lot of her own battles. These battles are mostly against her father. They usually consist of proving that she can do something or fighting for the freedom to be herself. I have some bias with Himiko. I love the character, because she is similar to me.
Friesner does well with writing scenes where she is communicating with the spirits. She’s also not afraid of having some of the characters you love die.
There are a few downsides. Even though I was captivated with the story, it became somewhat predictable in the middle of the novel. Himiko spent a lot of the story in childhood (6-10 years old) which grew a little dull to me. This may be due to the fact that I’m not younger, because this could be classified as children’s literature.
Overall, this is a good book. It is more likely that a child or preteen will probably like this more than the average teen or adult.
Genres: Children’s Literature, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mythology
Stars (out of 5): ****