#Book Review – Setsuko and the Seven Samurai; V.M. Sawh

Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for Setsuko and the Seven Samurai, a fairy tale retelling written by V.M. Sawh.

First thing first, let me thank the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip* 

MEET THE BOOK

Good Tales For Bad Dreams invites you to take a journey back to 16th century Japan for a wicked interpretation of a classic fairy tale. This is the story of love, honour and revenge. This is your samurai Snow White.

Jealous of Setsuko’s beauty, the wicked geisha Izanami orchestrates the murder of her father, the daimyo of a mountaintop castle. After an assassination attempt leads to a coup, Setsuko suffers a catastrophic injury and is forced to flee the only place she’s ever called home and take refuge in the woods with a group of exiled samurai. Orphaned, abandoned, and disabled, Setsuko must learn the truth of what it means to be a samurai, if she ever hopes to reclaim her family’s honour and take her revenge.

Welcome to Good Tales For Bad Dreams, a short-fiction series of re-imagined fairy tales. Each story is set in a different time and place. Some will be familiar, others will not. So strip bare your assumptions, open your mind, and see these tales told like never before.

144 pages
Fairy tales, fantasy
Good Tales for Bad Dreams #5
Publication date: 03/08/18
Purchase links

Amazon.com

READ MY REVIEW

Cover: It reminds me of Japanese horror, kinda catchy.

A retelling of fairy tales is always an enjoyable challenge, both for the writer and the reader. The writer has to weave a story using key elements—recognizable elements—while adding enough spin to make it stand out; the reader has to step away from the original tale and suspend their disbelief in places while looking for hidden tropes.

As a reader, I rather like the latter. It’s a fun game to play when the book is well-written and captivating, just like Setsuko and the Seven Samurai. Setsuko is a reimagined Snow White, the daughter of a local daimyo and antagonized by Izanami. 

The characterization of both is spot on, and as it happened with the original fairy tale, I found myself hoping against hope that Izanami would relent. Her reasoning isn’t sound—well, duh—and the urge to shake some sense into her is strong whenever she comes on stage. It’s a testament to Sawh’s skills as a writer, being able to paint an interesting character within the constraint of her given role. Setsuko, of course, reads stronger because of her arc, but Izanami has an unmatchable allure.

The cast of characters is on the big side, but that doesn’t interfere with the plot or the characterization. It’s easy to tell them apart, and their voices don’t blend together. Good!

Another detail I appreciated has to do with the care Sawh has taken in researching Japanese culture. I made a note about it when I was reading, wanting to highlight it, and then I noticed another reviewer pointing it out, too. Fact is, it’s plain that Sawh planned Setsuko and the Seven Samurai to a T

What could have been handled better? Technicalities. The grammar is good, but there are a few repetitions, and they slow down the flow. Words translations should not be inserted in the text but as footnotes. Nothing major though, and it won’t affect the final rating in a big way.  

4 stars on GR.

MEET THE AUTHOR

 It all began with Alan Moore’s “The Anatomy Lesson”.

When I was far too young to be reading such things, I picked up a small, dirty, plastic-wrapped comic digest from my local library. The first and featured story was a piece by Alan Moore which started with the line: “It’s raining in Washington tonight.”

It tells the story of a mad doctor who is awaiting the resurrection of a character whose name I won’t reveal here.

Suffice it to say, I was both horrified and intrigued. My young mind had never encountered such a dark and twisted tale, whose ending at the time shocked me. I remember being transfixed by the power of Alan Moore’s imagery and the depth of his narrative. That story still haunts me to this day.

I first picked up the pencil at age 6 to start creating a few stories of my own. Haven’t stopped since. My first trilogy was completed by age 16. Despite the urging of my Writer’s Craft professor, I never published it. At that time, I found the entire publication industry far more frightening than anything I had ever read.

I graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Degree in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in English which included extensive coursework on Short Story Writing, Novel Writing, Cinema Studies and Poetry.

I was featured in the Toronto Sun in the January 2014:http://virtual.torontosun.com/doc/tor…

Several of my works have gone on to be listed as #1 in their Amazon categories, including Cinders, Hontas & GR3T3L-1.

My first short story – Cinders – was published after a chance meeting with Academy-Award winning director Guillermo Del Toro.

Connect with me on Twitter: @VMS_author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmsawh

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