Sunday, January 8, 2023

Today's read... Catfish Rolling by Clara Kumagai

The cover on today's read already had me itching to get my fingers on a copy...but no worries, the blurb is intriguing, too. This is a young adult novel, which is scheduled to hit the shelves the beginning of March. Set in Japan, it promises to mix ancient myth with emotions, earthquakes, time travel, and all of that in a subtle stream of magical realism. Oh, and of course catfish are involved, too. Simply said, this should be an original tale with tons of surprise and heart.

I was super excited to dive into this one and while I got my hands on it...oh...around mid November, I think...I didn't have time to work it into my schedule until now. So, this one is a highly anticipated read by me, which, hopefully, will hold everything I think it will.

by Clara Kumagai
Young Adult Magical Realism
384 pages

MARCH 2nd!!!

Magic-realism blends with Japanese myth and legend in an original story about grief, memory, time and an earthquake that shook a nation.

There's a catfish under the islands of Japan and when it rolls the land rises and falls.

Sora hates the catfish whose rolling caused an earthquake so powerful it cracked time itself. It destroyed her home and took her mother. Now Sora and her scientist father live close to the zones – the wild and abandoned places where time runs faster or slower than normal. Sora is sensitive to the shifts, and her father recruits her help in exploring these liminal spaces.

But it's dangerous there – and as she strays further inside in search of her mother, she finds that time distorts, memories fracture and shadows, a glimmer of things not entirely human, linger. After Sora's father goes missing, she has no choice but to venture into uncharted spaces within the time zones to find him, her mother and perhaps even the catfish itself.


Emotions and loss transcend time, and this young girl only sees both as being beyond anyone's control.

Sora and her family are vacationing in Japan when the earthquake hits. While a 'normal' earthquake would have already been devastating, this one causes pockets in time. Some places move faster, while others are slower. None can be understood and all are dangerous. Sora's mother was lost during the catastrophe, leaving her father and her behind. But unlike most, they are studying time and the areas, venturing secretly in when no one is allowed. Plus, Sora has noticed shadows, which no one else seems to see. When her father goes missing, she sees no choice but to hunt him down because she suspects he's slipped into another time. But it's a dangerous that could leave her as nothing but a pile of ash.

I do love the cover on this one, and that alone made me one to pick this one up. Luckily, the surmise is interesting, too. The prologue grabs with the first scene as Sora and her father experience the earthquake, and the world turns upside down around them. Then, it fast forwards to her graduation, where she's still suffering under the loss of her mother (years later), but considering the various time pockets, which have formed, her attitude is understandable. Her determination to work with her father to uncover the secrets of these scattered time areas, makes her easy to root for...especially when she begins to see shadows and her own father seems to be slipping as if caught in his own, odd time bubble. It's an intrigue world and circumstance, which leaves many questions and offers the hope that she'll not only figure things out...but maybe find her mother again. So, get ready for a deep dive into emotions, loss, and hope because this read dances around that heart the whole way through.

The addition of the catfish adds the right touch of magic to keep dreams flying...since the time pockets are quite dangerous. And all of this sticks enough in 'reality' to keep the scenes and characters familiar and sympathetic. There's even romantic nods and friendship to make sure everything is grounded, and warmth and hope. Still, with all of this going on, it is not a fast-paced read. Sora's thoughts run deep as the reader sinks into her head. For those who tend to enjoy more action and adventure, it's on the slow side, and there are still many questions left open at the end about the fantastical aspects. Those readers, who enjoy the emotional ride and are more into the heart than the reason, are in for a treat.

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