Publishing Date: December 2014
Publisher Description: 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.
Review: This was a very entertaining read. Yamada was an engaging character and moved well within the story line. The characters are thinly developed as a means to promote plot tension and emphasize the intertwined mysteries. The ghost world that is built is inventive and curiously fun. There is an undercurrent of humor that persists throughout the novel that I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it is Yamada’s commentary and able glibness that enjoins that perspective.
While most reviewers stated that the novel, while written well, was not compelling enough mainly due to the lack of character development, I thought it fit well with the stories that were being told. Sometimes you have to sacrifice character depth for the broader tapestry and focus on the one.