Japanese Fairy Tales

Yei Theodora Ozaki’s translated compendium of Japanese fairy tales is a charming read. Published in 1903 and now out of copyright, I got mine from the Kindle store a while ago for free. It’s also available to download or read for free on Project Gutenberg.

In her introduction, Ozaki explains that she wanted to bring the world of Japanese fairy tales to a western audience and her selection of twenty-two stories is based on Sadanami Sanjin/Sazanami Iwaya’s Meiji era collection for children, with a few tales from other sources. Ozaki rewrote the stories into English with a younger audience in mind. While some are gentle in tone, the fact that they are for children is no guarantee that violence and brutality won’t make an appearance. Some of the stories are quite shocking and upsetting in their cruelty. I suppose an argument can be made that nature and the world are cruel and brutal things, and these stories are reflections of that. I don’t think it’s a collection that I would put in front of a child today, despite knowing what I was like as a child and how much I loved spooky stories.

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The Owl Service

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First read 1982/3

Re-read 21/03/2021- 27/03/2021

Rating 3 stars

Alan Garner’s The Owl Service is set in a Welsh valley not far from Aberystwyth. The valley contains an ancient, mysterious power. Teenagers Alison, Gwyn and Roger somehow unlock that power and have to deal with the consequences. Continue reading

The Bloody Chamber

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Read 04/04/2019-11/04/2019

Rating 4 stars

Angela Carter’s collection of re-imagined folk tales and fables presents tales originally told to the detriment of women as bold stories of female resilience and triumph. Inspired by, among others, Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, Carter has her heroines rise up against their male oppressors and find freedom. Continue reading

Touch

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Read 07/12/2018-22/12/2018

Rating: 2 stars

Touch is the second novel by Claire North, one of the pen names of Catherine Webb. I hadn’t heard of her in any of her guises, but a colleague saw me reading one of the Wayfarer series of books and thought I might like Claire North.

Its 423 pages took longer to read than they deserved. It was a grind at times. The central character has the sort of transient existence that makes it hard for them to have anything they care about, and the things North decided they would care about didn’t grab my attention. Continue reading

Slade House

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Read 31/10/2017-01/11/2017

Rating: 3 stars

David Mitchell’s Slade House is an adjunct to his previous six novels, an Easter egg laid on Twitter turned into a book. I enjoyed it as a quick read on Hallowe’en, surrendering myself to its suspense and tension, allowing myself to be played with, as the visitors to Slade House are played with. I indulged myself in Spot-the-Link, appreciating the way plot lines from Mitchell’s previous works made tangents with this story. Continue reading

Saga Volumes 1-5

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Read 28/06/2017

Rating: 3 stars

There’s a war raging across the universe, started by hostility between the winged inhabitants of the planet Landfall and the horned residents of its satellite Wreath. To prevent the destruction of their planets, both sides have outsourced the war, so now it is fought everywhere else but Landfall and Wreath.

I borrowed the first five trades of the comic book series Saga from a friend a while ago. Every time I’ve published a review in the interim, he’s been disappointed that it hasn’t been about Saga. We met up recently and I felt bad about not having read it yet, so I brought it up the list. My husband was out on a work do, and the football had replaced Coronation Street, so I binge read all five in one evening. Continue reading

Titus Awakes

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Read 13/12/2016-17/12/2016

Rating: 2.5 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge

This is the fourth Gormenghast book. Peake died after completing only three of his series, which has for a long time been thought of as a trilogy. It turns out his intention was to write more, to follow Titus further into his life. A fragment of the fourth book exists, a fragment which Peake’s widow Maeve Gilmore took and expanded into a novel. Continue reading

Leaving the Sea: Stories

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Read 07/11/2016-13/11/2016

Rating: 4 stars

So many books these days have endless quotes from reviews that prepare you for what you’re about to read. Especially books that are classed as different, difficult, uncomfortable, and extraordinary. Such is the case with Ben Marcus’s collection of stories, Leaving the Sea.

I own this book because Jen at The Reader’s Room reviewed it earlier in the year. She disliked it so passionately that I was intrigued. I’d read The Age of Wire and String, which is a very odd book but one that I loved wholeheartedly. I couldn’t tell you what it’s about. I can only tell you that it made me feel light headed, light hearted, confused and delighted.

Jen very generously sent me the book. I’ve been waiting for a moment when it felt right to read it. Continue reading