Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino

  • Received for review
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (3 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673015

In a place like no other, on an island in the shape of a tear drop, two sisters are born into a family of the oracle. Kamikuu, with creamy skin and almond eyes, is admired far and wide; Namima, small but headstrong, learns to live in her sister's shadow. On her sixth birthday, Kamikuu is presented with a feast of sea-serpent egg soup, sashimi and salted fish, and a string of pure pearls. Kamikuu has been chosen as the next Oracle, while Namima is shocked to discover she must serve the goddess of darkness. So begins an adventure that will take Namima from her first experience of love to the darkness of the underworld. But what happens when she returns to the island for revenge? Natsuo Kirino, the queen of Japanese crime fiction, turns her hand to an exquisitely dark tale based on the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanagi. A fantastical, fabulous tour-de-force, it is a tale as old as the earth about ferocious love and bitter revenge.

Cover:  Even thought I'm not normally one for facial close ups on covers, I like this cover.

Even thought Natsuo Kirino is a renowned Japanese crime author- a genre which I don't normally read, the synopsis for her foray into retelling a Japanese creation story drew me in- a dark tale of two sisters destined to be opposites.
And Namima's story was definitely interesting.  Her sister will become the great oracle, adored by all, whilst Namima will be forced to live isolated, surrounded by the dead she is charged with guarding.
Namima was an extremely sympathetic characters and I liked her a lot.  I wish the story was solely about her and her struggle.  But about 100 pages in, we start to get the stories of the gods Izanami and Izanaki.  I don't know if something is lost in translation, but it was really dull.  The tales of love and betrayal should be filled with passion, the reader should be able to feel their story.  Instead I found it to be a rather tedious narrative, lacking in passion and would much rather the story be completely about Namima.
I was also left without of unresolved questions.
Over all the premise was there but the finish was just a little lacking for me.  Again, this might be through the translation to English, but it just missed the mark for me.
2/5 stars.

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