Top critical review
Beautifully written but a weak sequel
on 3 December 2014
As the original Tales of the Otori Trilogy was originally written as a single novel, I think its clear why this novel contains all of the same strengths and weakness as Across the Nightingale Floor. While the prose is still hauntingly beautiful, I felt that this sometimes did not act in its favour as the flowery language often took the edge off the horror that the characters were exposed to.
I have rated this novel slightly lower than its prequel because I also felt that it succumbed to middle novel syndrome. Unlike Across the Nightingale Floor, it did not follow a strong plot but instead felt like an extended build up to the final novel. The pacing was very uneven, slow to start and far too fast towards the end, as its only purpose appeared to be to put Takeo and Kaede in position ready for the last part of the trilogy to begin.
The secondary characters also felt a little weaker this time around as, while the cast list was huge, I felt as though I did not get to know any of them. The biggest offender was Arai, who barely featured in the novel despite being its principle antagonist. Although the novel tried to emphasise his power, I never really felt it as it went unseen within the story.
However, Kaede and Takeo do remain incredibly likable and sympathetic protagonists. I especially loved how much development Kaede got within this story - she really did go from strength to strength and her gradual rebuilding of Shirakawa is testimony to how far she has come as a character.