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Publisher's Summary

A B.R.A.G. MEDALLION HONOREE. IAN Outstanding Action Adventure Fiction Book of the Year 2021. 1st Place Fantasy Fiction CIPA Book Award 2021. Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Winner 2021. IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards 2021 Silver Medal Winner for Audiobook Fiction.

To save an empire from the ruthless warlord who killed his parents, a young samurai must summon the courage to face his past and seize his destiny.

Award-winning author Blue Spruell reimagines classic Japanese folklore in an historical fantasy adventure of warlords, swords and mythical beasts from old Japan—an engaging tale for adults young and old—Banzai!

Lost in the mists of Mount Fuji...but no one can escape destiny.

Accompanied by Tanuki, his shape-shifting badger sidekick, Tarō embarks on a quest of self-discovery and revenge, falls for Kamehime, the teenage samurai daughter of a powerful warlord, and ultimately becomes embroiled in the political struggle for the imperial throne. Along the way, Tarō and his allies face fearsome yōkai, the ghosts, goblins, and ghouls of Japanese folklore.    

©2020 Blue Spruel (P)2022 Blue Spruell

Critic Reviews

"Engaging and fun samurai adventures with a captivating cast." (Kirkus Reviews)

"An exciting, magical coming-of-age adventure book that draws from Japanese folklore and history." (Book Life by Publishers Weekly)

"Taro is an extraordinary coming-of-age saga and highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of ancient legends retold. Highly recommended!" (Midwest Book Review)

What listeners say about Taro

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Superb coming of age story set in Japan

Award-winning and extremely talented author Blue Spruell invites adults young and older to this historical fantasy adventure of warlords, swords, and mythical beasts from old Japan. Taro is a lovingly written coming-of-age story featuring a lively cast of characters and fantastic adventures.

The author expertly combines and reimagines three old Japanese folk tales into this captivating story about Samurai, life, betrayal, war, bravery, friendship and love.

I am absolutely fascinated by adventures set in Japan, no matter the format. From books like Shogun, Musashi or the more recently released Detective Hiroshi series of mysteries by award-winning author Michael Pronko, or his essays about Tokyo titled Beauty and Chaos, to video games such as the Yakuza series or the PlayStation exclusive Ghost of Tsushima, I’m thrilled by the exotic culture, by the people and by their stories.

4-time Voice Arts Award Finalist, Audible Narration Contest Winner, classically-trained stage actor, fully-equipped producer, and waffle chef Steve Marvel does an absolute fantastic job of bringing to life all the characters and the events in Taro.

He delivers a perfectly balanced performance, reading swiftly, switching seamlessly between the characters and assigning each of them unmistakable voices or accents. The narrative experience is elevated thanks to the great way in which Steve Marvel handles specific Japanese words.

So, I can tell you that I absolutely loved Taro and I hope to see more such novels released by Blue Spruell! Well written, imaginative, easy to follow and immediately immersive, I highly recommend this award winning adventure of epic proportions to anyone and everyone who loves Japan or wants to fall in love with it!

5 people found this helpful

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New take on folk tales

Taro is a collection of Japanese folk tales combined and mixed with historical information woven carefully into one rich story of betrayal, trust, patience and more. Taro wants to become a Samauri but to do so he must prove himself through several trials and situations. His faith and beliefs are pushed but the outcome is beautifully done.

I enjoyed the section on the mirror and broken promises as it was vividly described. The conversations are smooth and convincing. Blue Spruell, the author, does an excellent job of weaving a story out of several folk tales and blending them seamlessly. The main characters are well-developed and strongly portrayed. Spruell is graphic in his descriptions presenting to the listener a full story.

The narrator, Steve Marvel gives an impressive performance. He is adept at unique voices allowing the listener to follow along easily. Marvel speaks clearly and delivers a steady performance. I have not had the pleasure of hearing him before but look forward to more.

This book is not just for young adults, older adults will enjoy it as well. Taro is well-done and a good listen!
There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

Disclaimer: This Audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias, honest review.

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YA Mythology, Coming of Age and Hero's Journey

Disclaimer: By law I’m required to state I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for my unbiased review.


Taro takes inspiration from three japanese myths as well as historical characters and blends them together into a cohesive and enjoyable story. The author includes enough information so that those not familiar with japanese folklore do not feel lost and those that have some familiarity with the characters will see where the inspiration came from while being able to enjoy these interpretations as distinct characters.

Speaking of characters, often and fables the main and side characters cane sometimes feel more like role fillers than actual characters and that was not the case here. The author weaves a powerful heroes journey combined with a magical coming of age story for the ages. I will definitely be re-listening to it in years to come.

Speaking of listening, the narrator Steve Marvel had an engaging voice and never stumbled over pronunciation of japanese words. He was easy to listen to and I could not wait to see how the tale would unfold next.

I would recommend this to YA audiences.

1 person found this helpful