Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Spirit Hunters. Book 3: Tails High, by Paul Kidd. Illustrated.
Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com/Perth, Western Australia, Kitsune Press, September 2016, trade paperback $26.59 (423 pages), Kindle $7.90.
Here are four more of Paul Kidd’s witty tales of the Sacred Isles, the land of Japanese mythology; about a hundred pages apiece. The Spirit Hunters are a quartet who venture throughout mythical Japan hunting inimical yōkai (supernatural spirits) to exorcise or kill them. They are Lady Kitsune nō Sura, a fox woman, and her companion Tsunetomo Tonbo, a huge human samurai, who hope to be paid for their services; Asodo Kuno, a young low-ranking human samurai who has joined them to gain a reputation and higher status; and Nezumi nō Chiri, a shy rat-spirit who Sura has invited to join them. Sura and Chiri, and any other animal-people who the quartet meet, can shift among three forms: human except for animal ears and tail; anthropomorphic, looking human but with an animal head, full fur or feathers, and tail; and fully animal but still able to talk.
Book 3: Tails High is a bit darker than the first two. The first tale is light, but it turns ominous in its final paragraphs. These four are set a little later than 900 or 1000 A.D. The Emperor is faced by rising powerful regional lords (daimyō). He must decide whether to fight to retain his authority and have the Sacred Isles rent by civil war, or to appoint a warlord as his supreme general – his shogun – and submit to becoming a mere figurehead. We know how this turned out in our Japan. But in the Sacred Isles, with the Spirit Hunters’ aid …?
Book 3 contains the Eighth through Eleventh Encounters. In “Eighth Encounter: The Art of Being Koi …”, the Spirit Hunters come to an entire community of friendly animal-spirits:
“The main house had a great, broad porch shaded by a maple tree. A fine maiden dressed in white priestess’ robes sat in the shade, comforting a desolate young wife.
The weeping young woman was startlingly beautiful. Skin covered in magnificent golden scales, her face was that of a golden carp, with a delicately fanned fish-tail peeking out beneath her robes. Utterly exhausted from weeping, the carp spirit’s long sleeves were wet with tears.” (p. 26)
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