Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Little Sister (Mitsuko, #1)” as Want to Read:
Little Sister (Mitsuko, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Little Sister

(Mitsuko #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  662 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
As a girl in the Japanese imperial court of the 1200s, Mitsuko is shielded from reality. But when her brother-in-law is murdered, and her family taken away by a warlord, she summons the courage to venture into the nether-world. The spirit of Mitsuko's beloved sister, still devastated by the loss of her husband, wanders between Life and Death. In order to bring her sister b ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Puffin (first published September 1st 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Little Sister, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Little Sister

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Nov 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm Japanese, and it's really obvious this is written by a non-Japanese author. It just feels dripping with exotifying language in a bad way. I couldn't get through it, even though I love YA about birds and bird-monsters and the tengu character made me want to like it, but I couldn't even make it to that part.

If you want a good, English language, historical fantasy about shapeshifters, read The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson. It's much better and didn't make me want to throw the book across the room.
Jul 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
If I hadn't read so much manga and watched so much anime before I discovered this book, I would have loved it - certainly as a teenager.

I sort of grinned at every time they messed up monogatari as monotagari/monotogari...

It's a fun romp through Heian times of Court Nobles and Oni mythology of Japan, with some Buddhism and Shinto thrown in. And it has a thirteen year-old girl as the heroine, who reads believable in her world-view as a daughter of a noble family. Loved all those lovely short poem
Part of the Non-European Fantasy by Women blog series.

This is exactly the sort of book I am so, so happy this blog series is introducing me to. I am breathless at how much I am loving the books I've chosen; Little Sister, by Kara Dalkey, is no exception.

It takes place in medieval Japan, a thoroughly foreign concept to me. I know very little about Japanese mythology and history, although this book was enough to make me keenly interested. We are introduced to Mitsuko, which translates literally to
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book.
Kiera Beddes
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3 1/2 stars, I guess? Really, imagery and the prose itself is worth more than that, but I felt the story wasn't quite up to 4 stars, so I don't know.

Short, elegant, and entertaining. It was very cinematic, and I could see the whole thing unfolding in my head like animation (I could totally see this as a Miyazaki film - the sweeping visuals and sense of wonder were very similar in style to Miyazaki movies, actually). I loved the bizarre imagery of the underworld. The prose had that poetic, under
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
GAAAAHAHA THIS WAS SUCH A PRETTY STORY. All the poetry and everything omg. I was like What even I can't write anything near that wowowowo. This was pretty darn amazing story though for Mitsuko. So many metaphors though. Everything was just pretty omg. the names though like Yugiri kept making me think of sushi (view spoiler) ...more
Sarah Anne
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction lovers and Fantasy lovers, because it uses both of these elements in the story
I've recommended this book to so many people all ready. It's based in Asia, using the religious beliefs and some of the events that actually happened to tell the story of a young girl in search of her sister's soul. I thought it was great-well written, well organized, and fun to read. It has definitely made it to my favorites list.
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I LLLLLOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE this book. It's a really great book, and I totally recommend it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A very unique genre- Japanese historical fantasy mystery novel. Lots of cultural and religious beliefs mixed. A girl has to venture into the spirit world to try to save her sister.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting, entertaining book. Lots of action, adventure, and Japanese Mythology- but it still is easily accessed by a young, American audience.
A Dragon's Library
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to A by: a friend
Overall it came across clearly the author was outside the culture looking in, which while that might not be a killer, the rest of the book couldn't save it from this being a killing blow. As the story progressed, the reader finds themselves shoved from place to place, never able to really settle in and enjoy the scenery or get to know how it's affecting the characters we're following. The poetry, while often nice little pieces, seem forced in at odd times. I couldn't recommend this, and honestly ...more
Novel yang mengambil Jepang sebagai settingnya selalu punya daya tarik tersendiri. Tidak heran begitu melihat judul buku dengan seorang gadis mengunakan kimono sebagai covernya, saya segera memasukkannya ke keranjang belajaan tanpa sempat melihat lagi resensi di belakangnya.

Mitsuko, kata yang menjadi judul buku, yang juga adalah nama seorang gadis bangsawan yang menjadi tokoh sentral dan sebagai narator yang mengisahkan perjuangannya untuk bebas dari bencana yang nyaris membuat keluarganya hancu
Miranda Sanders
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey is one of my favorite books. It was published way back in 1996, so not a lot of people remember it. It follows the story of Fujiwara no Mitsuko, a Japanese child of a noble family in the 9th year of Emperor Shirakawa's reign.The setting is beautifully painted in watercolor strokes by the author, who writes as Mitsuko. We follow her as she and her family go through fires and scandal, and she befriends Goranu, a Tengu. Tengu are a particular kind of Japanese Oni, or de ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Category: Books
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Author: Kara Dalkey

Fujiwara No Mitsuko adalah gadis berusia tiga belas tahun di Jepang. Seperti gadis bangsawan lainnya di istana kekaisaran, Mitsuko hidup di balik tirai kesopanan, memakai kimono berlapis-lapis untuk menutup bentuk tubuhnya dan — bila di hadapan umum — menyembunyikan wajahnya di balik lengan kimono.Serta menghabiskan banyak waktunya untuk menulis puisi.

Tetapi Mitsuko bukan gadis biasa. Ketika desanya diserang bandit, kakak i
Nancy Meservier
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Mitsuko spends her days writing poetry, and keeping herself hidden from most of the world outside of her own family. But when her sister Amaiko’s husband, Yugiri, is murdered, and her sister’s spirit attempts to follows him into death, Mitsuko must flee her sheltered life and find Yugiri’s lost soul. With a crow-demon for a companion, Mitsuko begins a dangerous journey where she must deal with gods and monsters, and save her family before it’s too late.

Little Sister is a book that I first looked
Awal-awal baca buku ini sempet setengah hati, karena ceritanya yg terlalu anak-anak (mengingat saya udah bangkotan) belum lagi banyak tulisan dalam bentuk puisi, tapi setelah cerita mulai masuk ke konflik, tak terasa saya ikut terlarut membacanya.

Kisah perjuangan Mitsu-chan dalam menyelamatkan keluarganya membawanya dalam petualangan dengan para mahluk mitologi Jepang. Dan persahabatannya dengan tengu si bunian a.k.a jejadian digambarkan dengan indah dan polos. Mungkin karena akhir-akhir ini say
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mitsuko: Persahabatan, Petualangan & Cinta Seorang Gadis Bangsawan. Judulnya ini benar-benar menggambarkan isi buku yang selesai gw baca hanya dalam sekejap, karena setelah membuka halaman pertama ternyata tidak bisa berhenti membacanya.

Yang menarik tentu saja karena Dalkey menggabungkan sejarah, mitos dan legenda dalam menceritakan perjalanan Mitsuko mencari jiwa suami kakaknya. Bertemu Raja Naga penguasa laut, dewa badai, sampai mampir ke neraka dan negeri leluhur tempat orang-orang mati p
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book that takes place in Japan's past, at a time when there was a great deal of trouble in the country with warrior monks, feuding families, and, in this case, mythological creatures that turn out to be real.

Mitsuko is from a well-off family, but everything falls apart and she ends up going on a search for the spirit of her sister's dead husband in order to bring her sister's soul back to her. Mitsuko becomes involved with a shape-shifter, and the story just keeps getting
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Part of the 2015 Reading Challenge: A book you own but have never read

I'm a little slow at reviewing this book, so this should be quick and short.

I loved this book. While the world is largely unfamiliar to me, I was quickly pulled into medieval Japan, seeing it through the eyes of young Mitsuko. Her tale is one of quiet strength, and of an undying love for her family and sister. I enjoyed seeing Mitsuko grow and change, and how she had to find her own path in life.

The last chapter of the book w
Ien Temaluru
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keberanian Mitsuko untuk menentang adat dan berteman dengan orang-orang yang "tidak selayaknya" serta memilih sendiri jalan hidupnya menjadi peziarah patut ditiru..

kadang-kadang, orang yang tidak kita duga malah orang yang memberikan pertolongan untuk kita, sementara orang yang dianggap "segolongan" malah tidak berbuat apa-apa untuk menolong saat kita terlibat masalah..

satu lagi..
penampilan benar-benar bukan jaminan.. tengu, ternyata baik hati..rahib malah jadi yang jahat..

love this book
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is sweet, simple, and entirely entertaining. this is the perfect, diversion from one of those,
"God i hate my life, why would my teachers give me so much homework?! how am i supposed to do all this?!"
type moments. i read it sometime between calculus homework and an English essay, and for that brief hour, i was completely and totally lost in the story.
i'll admit the ending was nothing like i expected, and it took me a minute to fully accept it.
(okay, maybe more like an hour to accept it
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Banyak memberikan informasi tentang Jepang. Kisah saling menggulingkan antar klan di Jepang. Dan kisah seorang gadis Jepang bernama Mitsuko yang melakukan perjalanan mencari jasad kakak iparnya bersama seorang tengu. Perjalanan ke tempat-tempat tak terduga dan pembuktian cinta sejatinya kepada kakaknya. Memberikan pesan moral pula bahwa kelp. yg diberi stereotip/label jahat ternyata tidak semuanya benar. Seperti tengu yang dianggap jahat, ternyata ia baik, bahkan menolong Mitsuko yang baru diken ...more
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
I liked the plot of this novel, however there were a few things that left me a bit annoyed. Dalkey's writing bothered me especially in the beginning when Mitsuko is writing in her diary, and yet she acted as though she were speaking. Another thing I disliked was the novel moved far too quickly. I couldn't get immersed into the setting because in the blink of an eye, Mitsuko would be somewhere else. It was entertaining and a very easy read.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
This was a pleasant little book. I think it would be more appealing to a younger audience. I did enjoy the tengu characters that the little sister ran away with. I liked best the turn at the end where the little sister realized that she had changed a lot and no longer fit very comfortably in her old life. It makes me want to read some of the books that inspire these types of writing: Tales of Genji, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.
Stephanie Moore
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought that Little Sister was one of the best books I've read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It started off slow, but the author picks up the pace quickly when the main character starts on a journey to find her sister's lost soul through heaven and hell being guided by a friendly demon named Goranu. On their journey they go through the Land of the Ancestors and the author describes the setting tremendously.
Kisah diawali ketika mitsuko dan keluarga dserang oleh para rahib yg mengakibatkan keluarganya saling terpisah dan kematian yugiri. Mitsuko rela melanggar semua peraturan yg membelenggunya sbg seorang bangsawan demi mengembalikan hidup amaiko dgn mengembalikan jiwa amaiko. Petualangan dmulai saat mitsuko bertemu dgn kami seekor tengu yg bernama goranu. Mereka pun bersahabat, goranu membantu mitsuko dgn memasuki dunia bunian. Semua itu mitsuko lakukan demi keluarga tercintanya.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I wish they would reprint this book, and other books by Dalkey, because this is one of the best young adult fantasy novels I've ever read. I read it when I was 12, and it has stuck with me since. Now in my 20s, I'm still enamored with it and actually just bought it on Ebay after discovering that I couldn't buy it new anywhere.

Highly recommended.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Okay, first of all, I just loved, loved, loved this book. And I'm still sad about the series not having a third book. D; Kara Dalkey must have done a lot of studying of Japan and Japanese Mythology, and I admire her hard work. I myself write a Dystopian/Furturistic book because I wouldn't have the patience to study what happened back then. Give it up for Kara Dalkey!
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by: Year's Best Fantasy And Horror (10th)
Little Sister is a wonderful tale, well-written and full of Japanese history and folklore. I'm surprised it's classified as Young Adult. If that's the case, I would think Tales of the Otori would fall under that category as well. hahaha! -- eps, 09/01/04

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • 恋だの愛だの 1 [Koi Dano Ai Dano 1]
  • Hanatsukihime, Vol. 02
  • Wishful Thinking
  • G.A. Aiken Bundle: The Dragon Who Loved Me, What a Dragon Should Know, & Last Dragon Standing
  • The Class Trip (Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition, #1)
  • Who Ran My Underwear up the Flagpole?
  • Silver Flame (Braddock-Black, #2)
  • Princess of the Damned
  • Red-Hot and Royal
  • Dragon Sword and Wind Child (Tales of the Magatama, #1)
  • Sugar Sugar Rune, Volume 5 (Sugar Sugar Rune, #5)
  • For Hating Me You Sure Are Possessive
  • Kyo Kara MAOH!, Volume 01
  • Ghost Hunt, Vol. 1 (Ghost Hunt, #1)
  • The Blue Viking (Viking I, #5)
  • Of Darkness and Crowns (Goddess Wars, #2)
  • Vampire Game, Volume 01
  • Marry Me, Maddie
Kara Mia Dalkey is an American author of young adult fiction and historical fantasy. She was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Seattle. Much of her fiction is set in the Heian period of Japan.

She was married to author John Barnes; they divorced in 2001. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship and of the Scribblies. She is a graduate of the Fashion In

Other books in the series

Mitsuko (2 books)
  • The Heavenward Path (Mitsuko, #2)
“He slowly reached up and ran a finger along the hem of my sleeve. 'You are a mortal'

'And I see little advantage in it.'

His gaze met mine. 'You are beautiful.'

I felt very strange. The world seemed to turn sideways. Now it was I who could not speak.

'We have been friends so long,' he went on. 'Surely our fates are now entwined and we will meet again.'

'Perhaps so,' I said at last. 'But you are immortal. You need not leave your life to see me in a new one.'

'I am a tengu,' he sighed. 'Only a tengu. We do not...mortals and we can't...I can only be your friend.'

'You have been a very good friend.'

'I want to marry you”
“I want to marry you.” 1 likes
More quotes…