Author: Sifton Tracey Anipare
Publication Date: 12 October 2021
Format: eBook -PDF
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Cybelle teaches English in a small city in Japan. Her contract is up for renewal, her mother is begging her to come back to Canada, and she is not sure where she belongs anymore. She faces ostracism and fear daily, but she loves her job, despite its increasing difficulties. She vows to do her best — even when her sleep, appetite, and life in general start to get weird, and conforming to the rules that once helped her becomes a struggle.
Meanwhile, yokai feast and cavort around Osaka and Kyoto as the barrier between their world and the human world thins. Zaniel spends his nights walking the dream world and serving his demon “bodyguard,” Akki. But there is a new yokai on the scene, and it has gotten on Akki’s bad side. When Cybelle gets caught up in the supernatural clash, she has to figure out what is real and, more importantly, what she really wants … before her life spirals out of control altogether.
Yume is a book that took me a little while to get into. In the early stages, I found both story lines interesting in their own way, and I could see the themes mirrored in each; however, they felt too separated. I am glad I stuck with it, though, as all that changed once we passed the midpoint. The two threads slowly came together to form a single narrative and the book finally felt like a cohesive whole. Anipare's prose was engaging and flowed well. I see in her biography that she has experience teaching English in Japan, but I hope she has exaggerated things for her representation of Cybelle's world, as if I were in Cybelle's shoes, I don't think I would last a week being treated that way! As someone currently studying Japanese, I enjoyed the Japanese text and phrases found in the pages. Meanwhile, as a fan of folklore, I enjoyed learning more about the various yokai through Anipare's story. Based on my appreciation of this book, I would definitely pick up future works by this author. For me, this was a 4.5-star read.
I recommend this book to fans of folklore-inspired fantasy and magical realism. However, if you are someone who struggles with (and is likely to DNF) slow-start books, I would urge you to persevere, as the second half of this tale does pick up the pace and bring everything together for a more action-packed finale. It's worth the wait.
I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.