Book Review: Yamada Monogatari, Demon Hunter

A fact you may or may not be aware of: If you’ve published a book in a particular category, Amazon frowns on you for leaving reviews on other books in that same or closely related categories. So, having published some stuff in the fantasy section, I’m going to err on the side of caution and write up a review for Yamada Monogatari, Demon Hunter, here.

Because it is awesome.

Honestly, Sanzo would approve of this guy. Yamada no Goji: disgraced noble, investigator with a sword, willing to face spirits and demons – and use them as informants, under the right circumstances. And perfectly willing to let them alone if they’re not trying to eat him, or anyone else. Drinks too much (except when he’s working), has disreputable friends, and pokes into things most people are too civilized to even bring up… yep, the Sanzo-ikkou would approve of him.

Three things I particularly find interesting about the book (which is a collection of short stories). First, its portrayal of nonhumans as not human. Foxes and yuki-onna may fall in love, but their motives and plans are much, much different from what a human’s would be. With the Mama Bear exception fully flying: Do not mess with a fox-wife’s kid. This is a bad idea.

Second, part of being a surviving demon-hunter is identifying exactly what kind of demon, spirit, etc. you’re dealing with. Slap a seal meant for a demon on a kami, the results will not be what you’re looking for. You might survive long enough to figure out what you did wrong, maybe….

Third – While nonhumans might be the most dangerous creatures, one on one, the most dangerous plots tend to be human.

All told, an excellent book, with enough flavor of the Heian era to make you feel as if you’re really somewhere very different from our own time. 🙂

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