"A collection of four spooky tales for the modern era, all tied to a certain Kyoto curio shop."
|"Kitsunebi" (foxfire) from Yokai.com|
"Most them are strangers, but I know they're connected by mysterious threads I can't even imagine. And when I have the chance to touch one of those threads, it makes a strange sound under my fingers. I think that if I could trace them all to their source, they would lead to a mysterious, shadowy place at the very core of the city."
Holding that thought, the weirdness continues in "Phantom," in which a guy who enjoys "exploring the tangled backstreets" and alleys takes a job as tutor to a somewhat "laconic high school student" and becomes caught up in a hunt for a "phantom ..." also described as "something like a spirit" in the area. Surprises are in store in this one, and the ending is not only eerie, but sinister and foreboding. "The Water God" rounds out the collection, with a family which has gathered on the death of an elderly relative telling stories and sharing memories and family history that go back in time as they wait for a "family heirloom" to be delivered from Hourendou. All I can say is 神聖なたわごと ... this was my favorite story, as well the absolute weirdest tale in the entire book and one of the creepiest I've ever encountered.
Fox Tales just sucked me right in, with the combination of the author's skill in creating a dark, almost suffocating at times atmosphere as well as his awesome storytelling abilities. This is the type of book I look forward to reading, where the mystery of it all pulls me in further and further until there is no outside world for the duration. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I love folklore of any kind, and I actually got a bit more from this book than I bargained for in a good way, with Japanese mythology and folklore interwoven into each and every story. Along with the strange connections to the curio shop advertised on the dustjacket, it is this element, I believe, that ties everything together and gives this collection its heft. This book may not be for everyone, especially those readers who need explanations to make their reading complete, which leads my to my only criticism: it might have been helpful to have added some sort of introduction for non-Japanese readers who may not have much familiarity with Japanese folklore.
For me, this book was a great way to end the 2022 reading year, and it's one I can recommend highly.