Yokai Magic

Margaret L.

In the process of cleaning out her late parents’ home for resale, Val Sherman uncovers a box of items her grandfather brought back from Japan. Among these are a white cat figurine and a scroll. When Val pricks her finger trying to open the scroll and a drop of her blood falls onto it, some powerful magic is unleashed. To add to her dilemma, Val’s old flame, whose parents live next door, is home from the Navy. It’s been thirteen years since the romance ended badly, but now it appears Thad wants to give it another go.

A fast-paced novella, the author has packed a lot into a short book. The rapid-fire action, however, does not have a solid foundation. The characters are poorly developed. They are cardboard cutouts who simply react to events and each other—or not. Neither seems surprised at the bizarre haunting. When a papasan chair scoots up from the corner, Thad simply raises an eyebrow and sits. A talking cat morphing from feline to human, ivory animal statues crawling about at will, and an ugly monster cleaning the shower with his tongue—none of this seems to alarm or overly surprise Val or Thad. The romance is also superficial—two quick but graphic scenes without any emotional foundation for a relationship. Val sums it up in her own words: “Suppose it’s only the fighting of demons together that’s making me feel this way?” The story could also have used another round of edits. A novel concept and some unusual magic, however, provide a short stint of interesting entertainment.

FS Brown