In 2020, Honoré and Emily are thrown into a mystery as
an ice spirit wreaks havoc during Kyoto's Gion Festival, and
a haunted funhouse proves to contain more than paper lanterns
and wax dummies. What does all this have to do with the legendary
Japanese fox spirits, the Kitsune...?
It is clear that author John Paul Catton, who (according to
his biog) lives and works in Tokyo, knows his Japanese culture
and folklore. The book is steeped in the mythology of ice
spirits, fox spirits and gods with many faces.
is a strange and alienating place in which Honoré Lechasseur
and Emily Blandish find themselves, not only a foreign country
but also another time: 2020 is the farthest they have yet
travelled into the future. Aside from the cultural differences,
the cities of 21st-century Japan are noisy and garish places,
and the narrative gives us a palpable sense of the travellers'
disorientation (no pun intended) in the prose equivalent of
the movie Lost in Translation.
year 2020 also contains items, such as picture phones, that
are commonplace to us but are amusingly new and novel gimmicks
to Honoré and Emily. This future is far more familiar to us
than it is to them, and Honoré is a little disappointed by
the lack of flying cars and rocket-packs, a la The Shape
of Things to Come.
more hints are dropped about the mysterious background of
Emily. Though she still cannot remember where or when she
came from, she vaguely recalls a heroic man who rescued her
from lots of monsters. Could it be that she once travelled
with a Time Lord called the Doctor? The fact that she possesses
a strange ability that enables her to always understand what
people are saying to her, in any language, adds weight to
there is more mythology than science fiction in this book.
There is frustratingly little in the way of scientific explanations
for the nature or origins of the Kitsune. You can, if you
wish (as I do), imagine they are some kind of aliens that
crash-landed in Japan centuries ago, but nothing along those
lines is spelt out. This would be fine in an episode of The
X-Files, but it won't really do in a spin-off from Doctor
is an intriguing addition to the range, but not one of the