Book Review: Ballad of a Shinigami by K-She Hasegawa

balladCome with me into a tale about Momo, the girl god of death. She is a shinigami who wears all white and has a demon servant cat named Daniel. Daniel has bat wings and wears a bell on his collar that rings every time they approach one of their unfortunates. There are several mini stories in this book about people who are dying or will die. The subject matter is deep, but handled from a teenage or child point of view which I think is pretty unique. It might even be a good gift for a preteen who has recently experienced the death of a close friend. It may help them deal with the incident. For the horror seekers out there, this doesn’t have much to offer you. The scariest part happens in the last thirty pages of the book, centering around Momo facing off against another shinigami in true grim reaper form.

Ballad of a Shinigami is the first manga turned novel I have ever read. It was an experience I might try again, but not one I would suggest for the everyday novel reader. The stories in the book were meaningful and ended well. The size and weight makes it ideal for carrying with you on a trip or lugging around town as it can easily fit in a pocket. It is rated older teen 16+, though I’m not sure why unless it’s simply the subject of death.

The main problem novel readers will have is that this book reads very choppy. I couldn’t tell if it was because it is translated directly from Japanese or if it is because they tried to stick to the manga style?

[reus name="Ballad of a Shinigami iFrame"]An example of this is from page 24.

“She could only stare at it. She could do nothing. She hardly even breathed. She felt pain in her chest. Her heart hurt.”

It’s almost as if they are using one sentence to describe each from of the manga.

Other breaks from the story are passages like,


In a world of other more eloquently crafted novels, I don’t think the general American novel reading public would give this book a chance. However, if you are a manga lover and trying to get into novels, or a manga reader that can overlook the choppiness, you should give it a try.

I was mildly irritated by the cat talking, but at least he kind of had some interesting things to say and I have to admit I laughed at the revelation that he does all the paperwork for Momo. I can just see a little disgruntled kitty typing on the computer and filling out forms. Makes me laugh and then shake my head.

For those of you who like talking animals, here’s another one for your list.

If you're interested in checking it out get your copy here from Amazon.