The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn by Amber Logan: A Book Review by Deanna Fig
Connecting Through Blogging
One night, while scrolling through Pinterest, I clicked on a pin that caught my eye. The link brought me to a blog post I found to be quite entertaining.
After peeking my interesting, I fell down a rabbit hole of reading blog post after blog post where finally I landed on one I really connected with. In this post, the blogger spoke about her stats and overall goals for her blog.
There, she mentioned a goal of wanting to guest post more. I knew I had to reach out and instantly messaged her. If you've been here for a while now, then you know guest posts are one of my favorite series on the blog as getting to connect with other creatives is always a blast. Well, after a few emails back and forth, I'm happy to announce the first Book Review Guest Post by Deanna Fig! Let's see what she had to say about her pick The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn.
Overview of The Secret Garden of Yangai Inn
Mari travels to Japan for a job. She is grieving the loss of her mother when an opportunity comes up that she cannot possibly decline. She finds herself at Yanagi Inn to photograph the grounds and the Inn. However, when she arrives the Inn is nothing like she pictured.
The garden is overgrown, the staff seem confused as to why she's there, and Mari starts getting a very strange feeling that something is not right.
Mari starts to explore the grounds of the Inn and finds that in its own way, it's beautiful. She imagines once upon a time it was breathtaking. During her exploration, she comes across a little island. She's told by staff that the island is forbidden which of course, sparks her interest.
Despite warnings, Mari decides to keep searching the dark crevices of the Inn and the grounds. Soon after, Mari starts hearing things in the night. Sounds of a child crying that no one else seems to hear. And how come there are no other guests staying there?
Mari is determined to uncover what happened at Yanagi Inn and who is waking her in the night. What will Mari discover, and can she handle what it means for her own life both in the past and present?
Beautiful yet creepy
The overall vibe of this book is beautiful but creepy. The writing is lyrical and draws you in right from the start.
The author takes you on a journey through Mari's grief and quickly you start questioning what is real, who is real, and what the heck Mari is actually doing at Yanagi Inn.
I loved the uneasy feeling that you got as the day turned to night and you didn't know what to expect. You know that feeling when watching a scary movie when you just feel like something is going to jump out from around the corner? That was what certain scenes felt like. I was on the edge of my seat in the best possible way.
The best part is that after all the creepy parts and all the build-up from the unease, flashbacks, and even hallucinations, the author is able to still create absolute beautiful moments.
An interesting take on grief
A large theme in this story is grief. As mentioned in the synopsis, Mari’s mother dies and Mari is dealing with all the feelings that come with that.
During her time at Yanagi Inn, she passes through stages of grief and you can tell how much she struggles with her feelings.
On one hand, she misses her mom. She remembers the last moments, she has regrets, and she ultimately wants her back. On the other hand, she deals with feelings of anger, betrayal, and difficult memories from childhood.
The way these feelings of grief are weaved into other parts of the story gave it so many more layers. As the reader, it made me think about the complicated push and pull of grief.
Ultimately, Mari's grief and time at the Inn leads to an unexpected discovery about her past that actually really shocked me but I LOVED it.
The Pros of The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn
· The Setting
The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn is set in Japan and the story is full of culture. From the food, the Garden, and even some religious/cultural practices, you are immersed in the setting.
· The Characters
Overall the characters were enjoyable and well-written. Mari can be intriguing and frustrating at times. There is a younger girl who works at Yanagi Inn who I loved. She was so sweet and caring. She really was the perfect host that felt like a friend. Mari meets a special woman who has been tending to the garden and she was the most calming but also surprising character!
· The Haunting Feelings
I loved the warnings from staff to not explore certain areas of the Inn. I loved when the creepy things started happening. The unknown and uncertainty was so appealing and well done by the author.
The book deals with difficult themes (grief) and even though that is a huge part of the book the author did a great job making sure the story wasn't super dark and sad.
The Cons of The Secret Garden of Yangai Inn
I feel like the story could have been a little quicker at times. It seemed like many of Mari's days at the Inn were just repeats. Either the days could have been made more interesting or just sped up a bit.
· Lack of Questions
One part that did kind of bother me is the fact that Mari really didn't ask any questions about her job. Her sister pretty much just tells her she got a job to take photos in Japan and then when she arrives and no one seems to know about her job offer, she doesn't really look much into it which I think is a little weird.
Overall Review Summary
Overall, this was a great read. I found myself unable to put it down at times. It was the perfect read for a cozy night in. As you can see there are way more pros than cons! In my opinion, there were not a lot of negative things to say!
Looking at the book cover (in case you judge by the cover), I think it's a beautiful representation of the story. It features a garden which is a huge piece of the book and also a big, beautiful crane which is not only symbolic but also a part of the story.
As for a rating, I gave this 4 out of 5 stars! As mentioned above, the book was atmospheric and beautiful but also sad and challenging at times. The only downfall was the pacing towards the middle of the book and the weirdness of blindly accepting a job on the other side of the world which can be looked over due to the beauty of this story.
Deanna is a 20-something personal growth blogger and freelance writer. She created Life By Deanna to inspire other women to focus on growth, create lives they love, and dream big. When she isn’t writing she is reading, cuddling with her cat, and probably eating mac and cheese!
It was so great to hear that Deanna enjoyed her read of The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn. I haven't heard of it before, but I'm definitely going to check it out after reading her review. If you haven't yet, go check out Deanna's blog. It's fantastic!
If you love book reviews and are interested in reading more, I suggest taking a look at my reviews for Midnight Sun, A Witch in Time, or The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue!