book reviews by Althea

*** Black Fairy Tale – Otsuichi

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Black Fairy Tale
Black Fairy Tale by Otsuichi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb intrigued me: “Bestseller in Japan, Otsuichi’s YA novella defies genre categorization.”
I was definitely interested in finding out what’s a bestseller in Japan these days.
However, I don’t agree with anything else in that sentence. I wouldn’t call this YA; at well over 200 pages, it’s a bit long to be called a novella; and the genre is straight-up horror.

The book begins with a strange, grotesque, fairy-tale-like story of a young blind girl who is ‘befriended’ by a crow who pecks out strangers’ eyes, allowing her to (briefly) “see” by giving her glimpses of the lives of those that the crow attacked. However, this is just a prelude. Soon we learn that this fairytale is the work of a popular horror author.

However, in the “real world” we are introduced to a character, Nami, whose life seems to parallel that of the fictional character in odd ways. After a terrible accident, she requires an eye transplant. The operation restores her vision, but she still suffers from amnesia, and her friends and family say she seems like a different person altogether. On top of this, she begins to have strange visions of someone else’s life. Could they be, as in the fictional story, glimpses of the person who was her eye donor?

At first her strange visions seem benign, even comforting. But as more information is revealed to her, Nami is compelled to leave her family and seek out the locale she is seeing in dreams, in the hope of discovering the truth of a terrible crime – to find a killer – and perhaps, to rescue a kidnapped child.

A certain seeming gentleness in the first half of the book lulls the reader… but later, it explodes into all-out gory and bizarre bloody grossness (perhaps a bit too bizarre, in my personal opinion – it begins to verge on silly.)

Overall, I’d say it’s worth reading, though.

Many thanks to Shueisha and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

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