Monday, December 20, 2021

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda


WHERE THE WILD LADIES ARE is yet another book that I desperately wanted when ARCs were being handed out-- and lo, I did not get a copy. That's okay, though. Eventually, it went on sale and I was able to obtain a copy with the rest of the book peasants.

This is a collection of Japanese story retellings. At the end of the book, the author talks about some of her inspirations for the stories, so I did feel a little left out, as it seems like these folktales might be better known to Japanese people and those who study Japanese folktale. All of the stories revolve around female youkai, or spirits and demons and ghosts. Many of them are morbid, but in a weirdly wholesome way that reminded me of Tim Burton and some of the Cartoon Network shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Courage the Cowardly Dog.

As others have pointed out, the strongest stories are in the beginning and the collection begins to taper off towards the end. My favorite was definitely the opening story, which is about a woman being haunted by the ghost of her aunt and also criticizes depillation and beauty standards, but some of my other favorites involves a sapphic romance between a woman and the spirit she dredged up while fishing, the story of a kitsune, and two pushy door-to-door lantern saleswomen.

This is a very strange collection of short stories but they were fun to read and I liked the feminist slant a lot of them had. There's nothing too off-putting or gory in here, so I think this would be a great Halloween read for people who want to join in on the fun but don't want to be too scared (e.g. me).

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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