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The Summer of the Ubume

1 rating: 3.0
a supernatural mystery novel

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Author: Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Horror/Supernatural, Japanese Horror
Publisher: Vertical Inc
1 review about The Summer of the Ubume

A Quick Tip by voilodion2012

  • Sep 22, 2012
  • by
This is the first novel in Natsuhiko Kyogoku's KYOGOKUDO mystery series. In Japan, these novels were a major contributor to the "onmyoji (yin yang diviner) boom", which was started by the TEITO MONOGATARI (DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS) series. They're basically mystery novels with a strong supernatural atmosphere. Kyogoku, an expert in folklore, freely applies his knowledge to the plots of his stories. Like any good mystery series with recurring characters, you've got your Holmes and Watson archetypes at the forefront. What I find interesting about the series is that Kyogoku basically splits the Holmes archetype into two different characters. Enokizu is the private investigator with a sixth sense that allows him to always "guess" the correct situation and circumstances regarding the case. However since it's purely an intuition, unlike Holmes, it's difficult for him to put his speculations into any logical context. Chuzenji Kyogokudo, by contrast, is a bookseller and part-time exorcist (onmyoji) with an encyclopedic knowledge of various subjects (obviously this is where the folklore stuff comes heavily into play). He doesn't have the "magical intuition" of Enokizu, but the power of his logic is always undisputed. Sekiguchi, the main character, plays the Watson archetype who is caught in the middle of these eccentric individuals. The book might be a bit slow for English readers at first since Kyogokudo spends most of it making long theoretical arguments (Morris the Explainer scenes) about the nature of psychology and culture. But this all ties into play later in the story, which leads into some pretty dramatic and unexpected results (although you will have to suspend your belief a little).  The translation is quite adequate given the subject matter and the heavy nature of the dialogue (it apparently took 3 different people to translate this novel and it shows).  If you enjoy unique "Hound of the Baskervilles-esque" supernatural mystery thrillers written by someone very well versed in Eastern folklore, you should enjoy this.
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September 24, 2012
Along with Pagoda, Skull & Samurai, this looks like another book I have to check out one of these days.
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