Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review:Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate by Richard Parks

Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate by Richard Parks

Paperback, 288 pages

Published December 3rd 2014 by Prime Books

From the back cover: "Yamada no Goji is a minor nobleman of ancient Japan who has lost everything - except a single purpose: keep a promise to the woman he loved. In order to fulfill his vow, all he has to do is fight a horde of demons and monsters, bargain with a few ghosts, outwit the sinister schemers of the emperor's court, find a way to defeat an assassin who cannot be seen, heard, or touched - and change the course of history. Fortunately, Yamada specializes in achieving the seemingly impossible, so he is sure in some way to succeed...if he doesn't drink himself into oblivion first"

On the surface this book is exactly my cup of tea. A historical Asian dark fantasy novel that includes demons, ghosts and the mid evil Japanese imperial court. When I first read the back cover description I assumed this was a Samurai demon hunter but this is before even that time in Japan. As a fan of far east fantasy I picked this book up the moment I saw it on the shelf at a book store. I knew nothing about the author or the fact that this character had a book earlier. That book was a collection of stories and novellas, this is the first novel.

Yamada is an interesting character and in the history of supernatural investigator characters he fits right with a Japanese twist. Disgraced from the imperial court I like how he fits the mold of the character trope in the context of the setting. It is clear that Parks does his research and unlike many historical novels the details doesn't get in the way of the story, he doesn't geek out on details.

If there is a main fault with this novel is that it doesn't always feel like a consistent story to me. Something didn't flow, I am not sure what it was. I found my mind wondering when I was reading it at times. Most times I found moments engaging. I wanted to feel like I was reading a book cousin to the Zatohchi movies and shows, like the feeling of classic samurai movie. Some feeling that wasn't there. Perhaps that is user error.

It wasn't a bad novel, I liked it just didn't fall in love with it like I had hoped. None the less I will go back and read the other stories about Yamada at some point.

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