Revenge: Eleven dark tales

Revenge consists of eleven short, eerie, disconcerting stories. At first seemingly unrelated, the stories begin to haunt the reader and each alike. Beginning with Afternoon at the Bakery, where a grieving mother has gone to buy strawberry tarts for her son to the tiger mentioned in The Man Who Sold Braces lays dying a slow death in The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger – there are echoes of the stories that came before or are set after throughout the others.

As you read along the eerie transforms to macabre and sinister with terrifying ease. The bagmaker of Sewing for the Heart finds himself commissioned to create a bag for a woman’s exterior heart. His fascination and later infatuation which become desperation kept my eyes glued to the text. Like many of the other stories, revenge isn’t a concept here, or even hinted at, instead desire and obsession are the focus. Reading on, you’ll discover that more and more of the events previously mentioned appear to have had impact or have already occurred and we’re seeing the aftermath. There is murder, grief, rage, humour and blurring of reality in almost every story.

This is a strange and eccentric collection of interlinked stories. I think the best praise has already been written by the author herself, in Tomatoes in the Full Moon –

The prose was unremarkable, as were the plot and characters, but there was an icy current running under her words, and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and again.

Yoko Ogawa

I would add that most of the books contain plots and characters that are unremarkable yes, but the fear and shock that comes from a seemingly average person exhibiting unusual and eccentric behaviour, is often scarier then jump start horror.

One for the readers who enjoy going to bed with chills and stories that stay with you long after you’ve put the book aside.

Four stars*

Author Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder, published in 1998


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