Monday, 7 November 2022

The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn by Amber A. Logan book review

Book Details:

​Book Title:  The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn by Amber A. Logan
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  336 pages
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher:  CamCat Books
Release date:  Nov 15, 2022
Content Rating:  PG. The book is clean, without excessive swearing, no sexual content or graphic violent scenes, etc.  
Book Description:

Cracked doesn’t always mean broken.

Grieving her mother’s death, Mari Lennox travels to Kyoto, Japan to take photographs of Yanagi Inn for a client. As she explores the inn and its grounds, her camera captures striking images, uncovering layers of mystery shrouding the old resort—including an overgrown, secret garden on a forbidden island. But then eerie weeping no one else in the inn seems to hear starts keeping her awake at night.

​Despite the warnings of the staff, Mari searches the deep recesses of the old building to discover the source of the ghostly sound, only to realize that her own family’s history is tied to the inn, its mysterious, forlorn garden . . . and the secrets it holds.
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I feel drawn to all things Japanese, I'm not sure why, but for that reason The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn was a great fit for me. I listened to the audiobook edition, ably narrated by Emily Ellet, and I think this enhanced the otherworldly atmosphere that Amber Logan creates in this novel. It turned out to be a perfect Hallowe'en season listen! I particularly loved the gorgeous descriptions of the sadly neglected Yanagi Inn's gardens, especially the way in which wild nature was reclaiming this formerly pristine space. I could imagine myself walking the garden paths alongside Mari, also gaping in awe at the beautiful crane flying overhead.
Mari herself is a complex and interesting character who had a lot of her own demons to resolve in the course of this novel. It took me a while to warm to her, but once I understood where she was coming from I could empathise with her. Her grief leads her into situations that she might otherwise have avoided and her fragile emotional state has a significant part to play in the story. I was occasionally reminded of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls and feel that The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn could be as cathartic a read for readers suffering grief.
I had worked out most of the secret by about halfway through so Mari's still not having caught on was a little frustrating at times. I loved her interactions with the other women around her. Una is a breath of joyous fresh air and Okura is almost reminiscent of a Mrs Danvers figure. I thought that the gardening motif was beautifully symbolic of bringing new life to the inn itself, but also to Mari who needed that level of care just as much.
The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn was an unexpectedly heartwarming and serene read. It certainly does have its scary and mysterious moments too. Overall I would recommend this book as wonderfully immersive fiction for dark winter nights. I would also recommend having sufficient snacks to hand as, for someone who doesn't eat much, Mari did seem to spend a lot of time describing delicious sounding Japanese food. I need to learn how to make onigiri balls now!

Meet the Author:
Amber A. Logan is a university instructor, freelance editor, and author of speculative fiction living in Kansas with her husband and two children—Fox and Willow. In addition to her degrees in Psychology, Liberal Arts, and International Relations, Amber holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

connect with the author: website twitter facebook instagram goodreads

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