In this collection of six short stories, each highly distinctive in conception, author Shūsuke Michio probes the psychological mechanisms by which a person who is slightly unhinged steps across the line into utter madness. Crows appear as supporting characters, casting shadows of ill omen over the action.
Fuyu no oni (Demon in Winter) takes the form of a diary written by a woman. The story begins on January 8 with the line “I can hear the demon’s footfalls in the distance.” The narrative then moves in reverse, day by day, back to January 1, revealing what the woman has done and why she fears this demon’s approach. She was left all alone in the world when the factory her father operated burned to the ground and she lost both parents. She accepts the kindness of a man she grew up with, who has loved her all his life, and moves to the country to live with him. But she is adamant that he must never see her face, which is disfigured with burns from the fire. With his consent, she arranges for a doctor she knows to surgically remove his eyes?so that they can live happily ever after.
Supporting his leaps of imagination with impeccable technique, Michio creates a sense of horror that leaves just the right amount of bad taste in the reader’s mouth. The uniform excellence of each tale belies the fact that this is his first collection of short stories.