Title: The Sword of Jubokko
Author: James L. Craig
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Date published: November 23, 2016
Word Count: 13,000 (novelette)
A digital copy of the book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: After a raid goes awry and his father’s life proves to be the price of failure, petty thief Katsumi wants only to start over and live an honest life. But he finds himself in the village of Aratana, a beautiful village haunted by a monstrous past.
Forced right back to the thieving he wants desperately to leave behind, Katsumi crosses paths with Kaito, a monk determined to exact revenge on the demon who killed his sister…
A novelette set in folkloric Feudal Japan about the unlikely love between a monk and a thief.
If one were to read The Sword of Jubokko from a realistic perspective, it would not really make sense and would not be in the least believable. However, if approached with an unrealistic perspective, the story works. At 13,000 words, this novelette is almost a short story, and thereby does not leave much room for character depth and development, or for many events to take place. Even so, I have read some short stories and novelettes in which more than a few days can pass, without interrupting the flow of the narrative, and The Sword of Jubokko could have used some more time passing in its plot.
The short amount of time it takes for all events to take place may be a part of the folklore feel of this story, but I may also be wrong. I have read folktales and myths which span years and centuries. And I will say nothing more about the pacing, in order to avoid spoilers.
The publisher’s website states that this book does not contain explicit content, which I found to be true, except for one scene. A character is portrayed as naked, and where the description could have been as PG as the rest of the story, it became unnecessarily explicit for just a few sentences. The wording which was used was redundant, and felt awkward rather than enticing.
As for the writing in general, the introduction was well-written, but the rest of the story was average at best. The narrative flowed fairly well, until there were some missing quotation marks, other editing errors, and uses of words such as “okay.” If you have read some of my past reviews, you will know that I greatly dislike when the dialogue in a narrative does not match the setting. The majority of the dialogue in this story kept with the requirements of the timeframe/world, but words such as “okay,” words which are undeniably colloquial to present-time English, destroy any spell the story may have put on you up to that point. Mistakes like this make me think of a Romanian saying about a cow which knocks over a bucket of its own milk…in other words, the creator having sabotaged their own creation.
I did enjoy some parts of this story, but find that it could have used more editing and expanding. I would be willing to re-read it if it were ever extended into a longer story, and were edited more thoroughly.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy shorter narratives, as well as Japanese and Chines folklore.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James is a combination of many nerds in one body. As A Naruto Ninja, A Gleek, A Pokemon Master, A Super Street Fighter and a Tekken Tag Tournament champion this guy has no choice but to stand out, which is fine by him. He loves the vivid and the imaginative and finds joy in creating stories that hint at real life; even though he often finds himself in a fantasy world.