Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa

From Goodreads:
Sinister forces draw together a cast of desperate characters in this eerie and absorbing novel from Yoko Ogawa.

An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Meanwhile, a surgeon’s lover vows to kill him if he does not leave his wife. Before she can follow-through on her crime of passion, though, the surgeon will cross paths with another remarkable woman, a cabaret singer whose heart beats delicately outside of her body. But when the surgeon promises to repair her condition, he sparks the jealousy of another man who would like to preserve the heart in a custom tailored bag. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders—their fates converge in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape.

Macabre, fiendishly clever, and with a touch of the supernatural, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge creates a haunting tapestry of death—and the afterlife of the living.
I was quite impressed with the quality of Ogawa's writing.  She's an author who had never even crossed my radar until I stumbled across this collection (I think from NPR's year end list?).  She has a decent back catalog, all of which I've added to my TBR list based on the quality of writing from these stories.  Each story is linked to the next, but in tiny ways.  I found myself searching each story for the connection, but the stories can stand by themselves as well.  My personal favorite was "Sewing for the Heart," which features a handbag-maker who becomes possessed by envy.

Entertainment Value
The supernatural plays a very minimal role in these stories.  Honestly, I'd be much more likely to describe them as darkly surreal than supernatural.  They reminded me (in an excellent way) of George Saunders' stories with a decidedly dark twist.  Not oppressively dark, though.  There's not gore or explicit descriptions of violence (despite one of the short stories being about a Museum of Torture).  They're just eerie and deliciously creepy.

I loved this collection and will be looking for a copy to add to my home collection.  If you like eerie, twisted, macabre, this collection is for you.  Don't be automatically turned off by the "dark" descriptions though - there's an almost fairy tale like quality that cuts through the darkness and makes them a delight to read.


  1. Adding this to my tbr list. I do love creepy, macabre stories. :)

  2. These are so good! I hope you love them as much as I did.