Author: Wen Spencer
Publication: Baen (June 4, 2013)
Description: First entry in a new urban fantasy saga by the creator of the popular Tinker contemporary fantasy/SF series. A young American expat writer in Japan suffering from OCD tries to figure out if she’s crazy or not while solving a murder that may be part of a war among Japanese deities.
A contemporary fantasy of mystery and death as American expats battle Japanese gods and monsters to retrieve an ancient artifact that can destroy the world.
On Saturday afternoon, Nikki Delany thought, "George Wilson, in the kitchen, with a blender." By dinner, she had killed George and posted his gory murder to her blog. The next day, she put on her mourning clothes and went out to meet her best friend for lunch to discuss finding a replacement for her love interest.
Nikki is a horror novelist. Her choice of career is dictated by an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that forces her to write stories of death and destruction. She can't control it, doesn't understand it, but can use it to make money anywhere in the world. Currently "anywhere" is in Japan, hiding from her mother who sees Nikki's OCD as proof she's mentally unstable. Nikki's fragile peace starts to fall apart when the police arrest her for the murder of an American expatriate. Someone killed him with a blender.
Reality starts to unravel around Nikki. She's attacked by a raccoon in a business suit. After a series of blackouts, she’s accompanied by a boy that no one else can see, a boy who claims to be a god. Is she really being pursued by Japanese myths—or is she simply going insane?
What Nikki does know for sure is that the bodies are piling up, her mother has arrived in Japan to lock her up for the rest of her life—and her novels always end with everyone dead.
My Thoughts: Nikki Delany is on the run from her mother. She is currently in Japan. Nikki has OCD and a condition that forces her to write. Her mother has had her committed to mental institutions, medicated and under the care of a huge number of psychiatrists who all try to convince her that she is insane. Nikki's mother is a rich, powerful senator. The only way to keep from being institutionalized again is to run.
Nikki uses her compulsion to write in order to write horror novels. When she is telling her friend Miriam about a scene that she has recently written and shared to her blog, she is overheard by a police officer. The Japanese police arrest her because someone seems to be recreating Nikki's fictional murders in the real world.
It is at this point that the story takes a turn to the paranormal. Her writing leads her to a katana that holds a kami, a Japanese nature spirit, who takes control of her body and moves her around. She is attacked by a tanuki impersonating one of the police officers who interviewed her. She writes about and then meets a shapeshifter that she first calls Scary Cat Dude.
The Scary Cat Dude, actually named Leo, is searching for his adoptive father and finds Nikki because she wrote about him and hopes she can write more and find out where he is. Nikki learns that she writes the truth which is horrifying to her because everyone she writes about dies in gruesome ways. Now she has written herself and her friends into the story and has to find a way to change the ending.
I really enjoyed the writing and the details about Japanese mythology. I loved Nikki who wasn't at all sure, at first, that she wasn't going insane. I loved her courage and her determination to have a life free from her mother's control.
Fans of urban fantasy, anime and Japanese culture are the ideal audience for this one.
Nikki's stomach was full of cold snakes. Getting into a car with a practical stranger was a huge personal "no no" for her. Only someone who was stupid as well as crazy would do it. Horrible things were done to them and their bodies were hidden away where they would never be found. She know almost nothing about Leo except that he knew what it was like to snap a person's neck with his bare hands. It wasn't a particularly reassuring factoid.I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.