Tangled Spirits by Kate Shanahan was a quick easy read. This book is a mixture of historical time travel paired with issues of two personalities sharing one body. What could go wrong? Continue reading to see my thoughts on this book.
Two spirits. One body. It’s harder than it looks.
2019: Mina Cooper’s study-abroad program has given her the independence she craves. But while meditating in a power spot on a Japanese mountain, Mina’s spirit is drawn into the distant past – and into someone else’s body.
999: Desperately lonely after her mother and sister die in an epidemic, aspiring shaman Lady Masako enters the spirit world to contact them. Unable to control her powers, she leaves in a panic, but pulls Mina with her.
After a struggle for control and a failed exorcism, the two spirits agree to cooperate long enough to get help from the Royal Astrologer, the only person powerful enough to send Mina home.
But his help comes at a cost. And the longer Mina waits to pay it, the greater the risk her spirit will fuse with Masako’s, and she’ll never get home.
Tangled Spirits delivers a story of magic, imperial intrigue, and a most unusual friendship set in the fascinating world of tenth century Japan.
Spirited Away meets Freaky Friday in this ultimate study-abroad experience for fans of Japanese history, mythology, and isekai stories. Fans of Christine Riccio and Alix Harrow will also enjoy this tale of a complicated friendship with a dash of time travel and humor.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
In case you didn’t know, I like history. I was (slash am?) a history teacher. The historical aspects of this time-traveling historical fiction were certainly well received. In addition, Tangled Spirits discusses famous literature from this time period that was written by women: The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji. Since I knew a bit about these books beforehand I found that to make some of the side plots more impactful. (Although, this background knowledge is not necessary to enjoy the book.) It was very clear the author was knowledgeable and did their research on the history of the time period. Shanahan did a great job of bringing in the historical setting without being overbearing. In ways the fact that our main character is an American placed in Heian period Japan helps to deliver this information to the reader.
If I’m being brutally honest, I did not like the main character, Mina. She does a lot of things that place her beyond the category of flawed character. Since she is placed in Masako’s body she should be very worried about getting back home, but at times feels boy crazy while Masako is not interested (reminder, it’s Masako’s body). She even seems somewhere interested in someone who is objectively not a good person. There are also other issues related clearly to Mina’s actions while in control of Masako’s body. Basically, I was only really concerned for Masako and some other side characters as opposed to Mina.
This probably fed into the easy laid back feel of the book, but it felt like a webtoon or Asian drama show. A modern person is reincarnated into the body of someone else in a different time period and place that is completely unfamiliar to them. This is not a negative critique, just an observation. If this feels too trope-y, then this is not for you. If you enjoy that, go forth and consume Tangled Spirits.
Tangled Spirits by Kate Shanahan was a very light and easy read. It had a well-researched historical setting and infusions of historical literature. While I did not like the main character, at least there were other people to like! If you are interested in a light quick read that involves some historical time travel, look no further.