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A Small Charred Face Paperback – September 19, 2017
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“They say vampire stories are dead, but A Small Charred Face proves naysayers wrong with an absolutely different type of monster ripe for our cynical age.” (Silvia Moreno-Garcia Certain Dark Things)
"Though horror in a sense, this is mostly a thoughtful coming-of-age tale about familial love and life with all of its blessings and hardships, related in an authentic voice. A compelling tale perfect for those craving something other than the usual fairy-tale retellings." (Booklist (starred review))
"[A Small Charred Face] bares the truths of life through both violence and beauty, imparting lessons one won’t soon forget. It’s a definite must-read for fans of dark, emotional tales." (ThisIsHorror.co.uk)
"Multiple times I was brought to tears while reading because Sakuraba so eloquently conveyed the depth of love these characters felt for life and each other. It is one of the most beautiful horror novels I've had the pleasure of reading." (Nerds of a Feather (nerds-feather.com))
About the Author
Kazuki Sakuraba was born in 1971. She began publishing while still in college. Her early Gosick light novels were best sellers and translated into English, and her adult fiction is also popular and critically acclaimed. Red Girls won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 2007 and was translated into English in 2015. Watashi no otoko, a suspense novel about an incestuous relationship, won the Naoki Prize for popular fiction in 2008.
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The book is divided into three separate stories. The first is the main, and longest, story. The second story ties up loose ends with a character from the first story, and the last story goes back centuries before and explains more about the Bamboo and their culture.
The story really reminds me of the older Japanese movie, “Moonchild” staring Gackt and Hyde. The world built around Kyo and his Bamboo, Mustah and Yoji, is tyrannical. Mafia (probably Yakuza) and gangs control the city and the people.
Mustah finds Kyo after he becomes an orphan and contemplates at first before taking him in with Yoji, another Bamboo he lives with. It follows Kyo growing up with his saviors, struggling with being human among the Bamboo, and living in a torn world. It turns heart-wrenching as he starts to realize Mustah and Yoji’s future plans, and a full on tear-jerker from then on.
The novella reads like you would expect of a manga; the dialog isn’t what you’d be used to in a regular novel. It uses a lot of ‘filler words’ (uh, hmm, like…) that’s a part of normal speech but is often left out of written dialog.
“Right! Humans get cold, y’know, Yoji! I totally forgot!”
“They do, huh? I didn’t know that to begin with. So listen then.”
“You have to take proper care of this kid, okay, Mustah?”
“Don’t make it seem like such a huge hassle. You’re the one who brought him home. And.”
“And look how happy you are now. Being reminded after all this time that human beings get cold.”
“…Well, there is that.”
Overall, A Small Charred Face was a delightful story with amazing, lovable characters.
Overall, this novel is a fresh take on 'horror' - one that is thoughtful, hopeful, and sad all at the same time. It isn't the best book I've ever read, it's not even in the top third, but I am thankful to have read it.