Saturday 7 November 2020

Book Review: Revenge by Ogawa Youko (Short Stories / Horror)

Title: Revenge
Author: Ogawa Youko
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2014 (1998)
Genre: Short Stories / Horror
Source: Borrowed from the Library

A woman goes into a bakery to buy a strawberry cream tart. The place is immaculate but there is no one serving so she waits. Another customer comes in. The woman tells the new arrival that she is buying her son a treat for his birthday. Every year she buys him his favourite cake; even though he died in an accident when he was six years old.

From this beginning Yoko Ogawa weaves a dark and beautiful narrative that pulls together a seemingly disconnected cast of characters. In the tradition of classical Japanese poetic collections, the stories in
Revenge are linked through recurring images and motifs, as each story follows on from the one before while simultaneously introducing new characters and themes. Filled with breathtaking images, Ogawa provides us with a slice of life that is resplendent in its chaos, enthralling in its passion and chilling in its cruelty. 


Revenge was a fun collection of tales that immediately caught and held my interest. Although billed as horror, the stories are not super gory or scary, so people who do not read a lot of horror - like me - should not be put off by that classification. I loved how cleverly the seemingly separate tales connected to one another, and the pacing of each story was spot on, the characters well portrayed even within such a small page allowance. The imagery and use of metaphor and motif was nicely handled. All up, this was an extremely enjoyable collection. If you have already read some of Ogawa's work, you'll enjoy this book just as much. It would also be a good place to start if you are new to her writing.

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