Late Summer, Early Spring

Written by Patricia Correll
Review by Viviane Crystal

General Sho Iwata and Hiroshi Sagawara are gay lovers whose peace has been thwarted by the mysterious illness of the man whom Iwata secretly loved, Prince Narita. The illness seems to literally be draining the life energy out of the man; he is clearly dying. He insists on his favorite consort, Lady Kumomo, attending him at all times until Hiroshi realizes she is not the real Lady Kumomo. Hiroshi is absolutely furious because he believes the real “Momo” has been killed. At this point the plot reveals that the false Lady Kumomo is actually an ancient spirit appearing in the forms of a cat and fox. The fox is part of a long tradition in Japanese literature, mythology, and folklore as a demonic, shape-shifting spirit in human form which wreaks revenge and chaos. In this case the fox’s motives are not clear, but it definitely has the Prince, the dead Lady Kumomo and Iwata as its primary targets.

After injuring the fox, which escapes with several wounds, Hiroshi makes it his quest to pursue it. This then opens the second phase of the novel. Hiroshi resigns his army post and leaves alone in his quest for vengeance, unaware that Iwata follows him with Hiroshi’s nephew, Daigo. The remainder of the story involves the solidly nerve-wracking pursuit, attack and defense mode from the central characters as well as others who fear the fox and assist Hiroshi in his quest. Fierce, adventurous, haunting and obsessive pursuit by a maddened hero assisted by devoted, loyal friends and relatives make this a uniquely thrilling tale. Highly recommended.