Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl

What fun it is to travel the world through the experiences of dynamic characters. Shinji Takashi is one of the newest in the canon of stories supported by Rick Riordan, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that this novel incorporates more than one type of cultural mythology. Written with magic realism at its core, this story encourages readers to consider our world with magic embedded within it, even if not everybody is aware of its existence. Because of this, the story reminded me a lot of Harry Potter and the parallel and interconnected worlds utilized in that series. Readers who are fans of the other books in this collection will love this one, as well, and they will fly through it and eagerly await book two. Please see my full review below!


For much of his life, thirteen-year-old Shinji Takahashi has traveled the world with his Aunt Yui, searching for new and interesting trinkets for her to sell in her shop in Miami. Journeying on her ship, the Good Tern, Shinji has the chance to experience myriad cultures around the world every year. When their travels take them to Africa and Shinji is invited to select an object on his own, he finds himself in a shop where one particular artifact catches his eye. Little does he know, this object is more than it seems, and Shinji becomes connected to a centuries-old curse that he must do all he can to reverse before time runs out.

This adventure-driven story fits quite well into the Rick Riordan canon of tales both in its captivating storytelling style and overall global perspective. Instead of focusing on one culture, however, this story does an excellent job connecting several different cultures from around the world into a pulse-pounding narrative. Throughout the novel, Shinji Takashi must determine where the truth is really found while learning how to trust himself in the absence of his family. Despite an innate desire to trust those he encounters, he seeks evidence in each circumstance to prove the loyalty of his companions. Shinji has many people alongside him throughout his journey, but he is the only one who places his needs as the primary focus. As all young teenagers experience the transition from being dependent on others to being self-sufficient, so too does Shinji grow in his capacity to care for himself.

Readers who enjoy global storytelling and a high-stakes mystery will easily fall into Shenji’s story and its myriad destinations. The adrenaline-packed storytelling is deeply immersive, using vivid imagery to bring Shinji’s experiences to life for the reader. Pieces of Mesoamerican history are woven into mentions of Shinji’s Japanese background, African culture, and more, creating a dynamic tapestry that enhances readers’ background knowledge of human history from around the globe. Attentive readers will catch hints throughout the novel about how the story will unfold, but it is nonetheless a riveting ride. This is a superb series debut, and it is one that will keep readers waiting eagerly for the subsequent installments.

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