Tag Archives: Japanese Mythology

Red Winter by Annette Marie

Overview
Red Winter (Red Winter Trilogy, #1) by Annette Marie

Title: Red Winter
Author: Annette Marie
Series: Red Winter Trilogy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Gods, Japanese mythology, Mythology
Dates read: 30th November – 22nd December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Dark Owl Fantasy
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: She was alone in the forest.

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Synopsis

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess – and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command – whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate – but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.

Thoughts

I bought this novel a while ago because I needed a story that featured a mythology that I’m not so knowledgeable about. It had no idea what to expect and had no idea whether it would be any good. And, boy, am I glad that I bought this novel! It was amazing, unforgettable and left me with a huge grin on my face. One that I probably won’t be getting rid of anytime soon if I’m being honest. Even as I write this review a while after I turned that final page, I still smile every time I think of this novel.

When I read the blurb for this story, I was expecting a medieval, historical style story. One in which the shrines and cultural practices of the past shine through. However, it is a contemporary story based in our world today. It was incredibly different and fun to have a strong belief in gods and goddesses against computers and cell phones. Shrines and archery against other forms of weaponry and buses. It was a gorgeous, wonderful tale that hit me from all different angles. Completely unexpectedly.

There are hints of the beginning of a love triangle in this story. Shiro and Katsuo both represent different aspects of Emi’s life. And although it’s kind of clear that she’ll eventually end up with Shiro, but there is that great tie to Katsuo as well. I love that they reveal more and more facets to Emi’s personality and life that were completely unexpected.

This is one of those stories that unexpectedly impacted me emotionally. In a big way. Emi’s journey and struggles are intense and make you want to give her the worlds biggest hug. It’s kind of tragic. I’m hoping that as the series unfolds there is less tragedy, and a way out of the predicament that she finds herself in. I hope against hope. Otherwise it will just break my heart if it ends more as expected…

<- More Annette MarieDark Tempest ->

Image source: Goodreads

A Natural History of Autumn by Jeffrey Ford

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: A Natural History of Autumn
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Japanese mythology, Monsters
Dates read: 2nd May 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Riku fired, but the face flinched away in an instant, and once the bullet went wide and filled a neat hole in the door, the creature returned and said, “Tomodachi.”

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Synopsis

Riku and Michi are spending a night away together in a mysterious location. But, before they see dawn, they’re going ot face up to some of the worst demons… both inside and out.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this short story. it was a great introduction to the idea of monsters in a monster collection, and that sometimes they’re not always as they seem. I think if I was a bit more familiar with Japanese folklore, I would have picked up more in this story and a bit more of the symbolism. But even without that understanding, this was a great, fun and engaging read. One that I was kind of sad to see finished. And especially sad to find out that it’s not part of a greater series.

Autumn is one of those months that doesn’t really seem to get much attention… the other three all have traditions and histories, and, unless you’re American, Autumn just seems to pass on by. But there is something that is a little bit magical about the month. A little bit sinister. And a little bit dark and twisty. Which makes it the perfect setting for this monstrous adventure. It’s not entirely a dark story, but it’s also not all spring and sunshine either.

I like the twist at the end of this tale. I’m still not sure that I fully understand it, but I know that I enjoyed it. And it is one of those tales that on a reread will probably reveal clues that I never noticed before.

<- The MonstrousAshputtle ->

Image source: Amazon

Realer Than You by Christopher Barzak

Overview
Image result for coyote road book cover

Title: Realer Than You
Author: Christopher Barzak
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Japanese mythology, Tricksters
Dates read: 23rd March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: My dad’s boss, Mr. Fujita, got my dad acclimated to the area quickly, so I don’t think he ever felt that vertigo.

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Synopsis

It’s hard to find yourself, but when you’ve moved across the world to a country you don’t understand, it can be even more difficult. But a visit from a trickster spirit could help this young boy figure out what his new path to happiness will be.

Thoughts

We all know the feeling of not belonging. Of being a fish out of water, so to say. Sadly, not many of us necessarily know how to get rid of this feeling. And, sometimes when people are teenagers, they never move beyond this. Which is all the kinds of feelings that this short story reminded me of. The feeling of not belonging and loss. And, quite honestly, the suicide forest that I’ve heard of in Japan. It just had that beautifully and tragically eerie feeling to the tale that I just didn’t quite know what to do with.

I really like the idea of kitsune in the Japanese folklore, but I don’t know much about it. Nor have I read much based on this (as I am writing this review, I’m also ordering some novels to fix this gap in my reading). This didn’t give me much more information than I already have, but it did help to fill my need to find out more. After all, this is a mythology I’m not familiar with, in a culture that I think is fascinating and beautiful. And I’m especially obsessed with tricksters, so it just makes the book nerd in my salivate all the more.

I was kind of expecting a bit of a sad ending in this short story. After all, it immediately reminded me of suicide forests and tragedy. Luckily, it didn’t end in this way. And I had the privilege of closing the final page with a smile on my face.

 <- The Listeners ReviewThe Fiddler of Bayou Teche Review ->
Image source: Amazon