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The Goddess Chronicle (Canongate Myth Series)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,172 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
From internationally bestselling crime writer Natsuo Kirino comes a mythical feminist noir about family secrets, broken loyalties, and the search from truth in a deceitful world.

In a place like no other, on a mystical island in the shape of tear drop, two sisters are born into a family of oracles. Kamikuu is admired far and wide for her otherworldly beauty; small and heads
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Canongate U.S. (first published 2008)
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Feb 03, 2013 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"A human life means nothing to a god and can be taken away at will. But for you... you're human, and that makes you hesitate. Gods and humans are different. My suffering and yours are different."
"Then, Izanami-sama, why do you suffer?", I asked, without thinking.
"Because I am a female god."


This book put me under a spell. I loved it so much it hurts, seriously.

I ordered it for the English language section of our bookstore (which is slowly but surely overtaken by English translations of Japa
Oct 30, 2014 Teresa rated it it was ok
The set-up for the main plot is slow, at times boring and too repetitive. The action, once we get to, can also be repetitive -- I kept thinking: please give the reader some credit -- though I'm willing to speculate that perhaps some of the fault is with the translation. The bland prose doesn't fit such an emotional story and the exposition seems as if it was written for a young audience. While I understand what she was trying to get at with the ending, it seems forced and I'm not sure it makes ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Nikki rated it it was ok
This is a really good retelling of the story of Izanagi and Izanami, with a dual thread of story where a young woman’s life echoes that of the goddess as she finally goes to serve her. The translation seems to capture the flavour of the original, a sort of tone that seems to be as distinct to Japanese stories as there is one I find distinct in Russian stories. It’s mostly simplistic language, which maintains that fairytale feel.

I wasn’t a big fan of the narrative voice, though. Sometimes it’s fi
It's an outstanding retelling of the Japanese Creation Myth of Izanami and Izanaki.

The myth of Izanami and Izanaki is a powerful myth, it is related strongly to the most primitive human conditions and emotions: birth, love, betrayal, grief, the death of a beloved wife and mother, the struggle of life and death, a man's helplessness before the fear of death, etc. I like the story of the twin priestesses on the small island and how the twin's story is later being related to the tale of Izanami, o
Jan 29, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

" ‘There is always poison. You can be certain of it. So long as there is a day, there will be night. And where there is a yang, there is a yin. To every front, a back. No white without black. Everything on earth has its opposite, its mate. Should you wonder why, if there were only one there’d be no birth. In the beginning there were two, and those two were attracted to one another and drew together, and from there we have meaning. Or so it is said.’ "

Feb 07, 2013 Nafiza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley, 2013
I am a fan of the Canongate Myths series and I am a fan of Natsuo Kirino who has this way of slipping into the heads of her characters so exactly and so seamlessly that it’s almost a surprise when you, the reader, resurface in the “real” world and realize that the people you have been reading about are characters and fictional. So to say I was looking forward to reading The Goddess Chronicle would have been an understatement. The premise is so fascinating and though I am not very familiar with ...more
Lorina Stephens
It's always difficult to review a translated work, because when you come across either brilliance or lack of lustre, it's difficult to assess whether that boon or bane is attributable to the author or the translator.

Such is the case with The Goddess Chronicle, by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Rebecca Copeland.

The story is a retelling of an original Japanese creation story. I suspect the original work by Kirino is a charged, tight story. Copeland's translation, however, lacks passion, and certain
Fleur (FranklyBooks)
The reason this book has three stars is that it isn't terrible nor is it anything remarkable. The story was readable yet bland. Brutal yet boring. Odd combinations, I know.

The premise was very good, interesting even. Two sisters on opposite sides usually makes for interesting conflict. I think the main reason that the story came off so bland was this lack, the conflict lasted at most two pages and was over as soon as you realised what it was. There was no buildup for this conflict, and when ther
Jan 14, 2013 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first came across Natsuo Kirino's novel when I read her most famous crime fiction, Out. It was a very intense read and I was not surprised at all that it received the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction, Japan's top mystery award and was a finalist (in translation) for the 2004 Edgar Award. Her other novels, Grotesque and Real World were published subsequently and they received good reviews too, though Out is still considered her best work due to the thrilling and disturbing plot. It is no doubt a ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Andrada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wound up reading the Goddess Chronicle by chance when I came across it in a friend’s library. The description on the jacket intrigued me and I decided to borrow it. It’s an interesting journey into the Japanese mythos with the Shinto gods Izanagi and Izanami featuring as two of the main protagonists. You can almost call it a retelling of that legend of old that works as a parallel to Namima’s story of love and betrayal. It feels very much like a fantasy novel most of the time, set in a ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Vivienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel was a exquisite retelling of the Japanese creation myth with focus upon the tale of Izanami and Izanagi. Despite my interest in world mythology I'm not that familiar with Japanese mythology apart from being aware that there was a female sun goddess, Amaterasu. In the course of this tale I learned that Amaterasu was one of the children of Izanagi, created after his Underworld confrontation with Izanami. One of the many strengths of the Canongate Myths series of presenting world myths ...more
Sep 09, 2014 Teodora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teodora by: Loredana
A mesmerizing journey into the (under)world of a lonely and bitter goddess whose sad story intertwines with that of Namima, a little girl who lives on a strange island where people's lives are governed by strict rules and the ever-lasting fear of disobeying the gods. If you are familiar with the Japanese legends and horror movies, you know that the spirit of a tormented woman hardly ever finds peace. Natsuo Kirino invites the reader to discover the gloomy realms of this torment. She does it with ...more
Loredana Adriana
Jan 14, 2016 Loredana Adriana rated it it was amazing
I have to clear my head a bit before writing a full review, but... oh my God! What a book!

It's been so long since I read a book that made me feel such deep melancholy and sadness for the fate of being a woman. This novel is an allegory, and it should be treated as such, even though it reminded me of the fairy tales that I used to read as a little kid. I will write more about it, but for now, this is all I can come up with.

Irina dewi
Nov 14, 2016 Irina dewi rated it really liked it
This book is different from her other work such as Out and Grotesque but this proves that Kirino has great range in her writing. Part fictional and part mythology, The Goddess Chronicle explores the humanity and the emotions of all beings. Mesmerizing.
Parrish Lantern
In Japanese mythology, Izanaki (The Male Who Invites) and Izanami (The Female Who Invites) were amongst the original gods who were the creators of Japan and its gods. For many centuries myths like these would have been transmitted orally in Japan, until around 712 A. D. when a written version - the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), was compiled for the Japanese imperial court. The tales in the Kojiki tell of the creation of the world, the origin of the gods, and the ancestry of the Japanese ...more
M.L. Sparrow
Dec 23, 2015 M.L. Sparrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book! I loved it all the way up until the last few pages, when I was practically screaming "But You Didn't Answer My Question!" Seriously, did he kill her after all, was it some kind of accident, was she a victiom of Izanami's water droplets? This is going to be going around in my head for ages... I want to know what really happened! Did he plan it all from the beginning, because if so he pretended to love Namima for a long time? However, I suppose, (even though it's driving me ...more
Loredana Adriana
Încă de când a apărut la editura Polirom, în 2013, romanul „Cronica zeiţei” (colecţia Biblioteca Polirom, seria ACTUAL, traducere din limba japoneză şi note de Florentina Toma, 256 de pagini) al scriitoarei japoneze Natsuo Kirino a exercitat asupra mea un fel de fascinaţie combinată cu admiraţie şi curiozitate faţă de stilul de scriere şi de povestea inspirată din mitologia japoneză. Iar acum, în urma unei mici excursii la biblioteca locală, am avut ocazia să mă pierd în paginile acestei cărţi ...more
May 10, 2014 George rated it really liked it
The Canongate Myth Series has recruited some of my favorite authors, and I have been eagerly waiting to get my hands on this installment from Natsuo Kirino. The myth she has chosen is one of dualities -- the darkness and the light, the pure and the not pure. When Namima is still young, her beloved sister, Kamikuu, is taken to live with her grandmother. Namima doesn't understand why, but the two are forbidden to interact and everyone begins treating Namima very differently.

It is in the second ha
This is probably closer to a 3.5 rating.

From the back cover description, I had assumed that this was going to be a world entirely of Kirino's own making. However, it is actually a retelling of the Japanese creation myth of Izanami and Izanaki. The way Kirino writes is focused on the story from the women's perspective and the emotional complexities that the women in this story face. I do not know from which perspective the Kojiki addresses the creation myth, but from what I know of the Kojiki, Ki
Aug 28, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
The narrator for much of the book is Namina, who lives on a very small Japanese island at the edge of the archipelago. Her older sister, Kamikuu is chosen to be the Oracle for the island and Namina eventually discovers that she is destined to a miserable existence as the priestess for the dead. When she ends up in the realm of Izanami, the goddess of the dead, she hears an account of the origin story of the Japanese gods including Izanami herself and her husband Izanagi, who she feels is ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, translation
I had no idea this was part of the Canongate Myths series, but that fact puts this into context and makes me like it more. I would have liked it anyway. It is translated in a dry, unflowery sort of way, but for the most part it worked well enough. It is the telling of a myth, in which at some points people rage and grieve but not in a showy way that demands showy language. They rage coldly, bitterly; they grieve blankly, without quite understanding what they're doing. Gods are silly, confused ...more
Marissa Cain
Oct 14, 2014 Marissa Cain rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
**I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.** The writing of this story was simple, yet it felt as though each phrase was meticulously chosen. It was a quick read, but imaginative and beautifully written. It reads like a fairytale, which was an aspect of the novel that I enjoyed. However, the parts that took place in the Realm of the Dead, and the account of the creation story between Izanami and Izanaki was painful to get through. The story was interesting up until this point, ...more
Melissa Cabbage
Jun 19, 2015 Melissa Cabbage rated it liked it
Shelves: special-reviews
This is by far one of my favourites from Natsuo Kirino, despite this being a very different book from what she normally writes. If Goodreads allow half stars, I would give this a 3.5, because while I did enjoy this book, there are also times when I didn't. Reading this book made me feel like I'm going round in circles, in a "They never learn" kinda way, and it's immensely frustrating to know that the characters continue to repeat their mistakes like it was their destiny, and they were doomed to ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Stefanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found myself relating this retelling of a Japanese myth to ecofeminism. I thought the underlying context beneath the actual retelling was remarkable, as Kirino often weaves feminist statements thoroughly into her novels. But I honestly can't tell if the bad writing style is due to the author or the translator. There were so many times when I would pause and ask myself if I was actually reading a children's book. Given her previous works and international recognition, I think I simply expected ...more
Aug 16, 2013 Deanna rated it really liked it
I truly appreciate both the creation story/myth embodied in Kirino's latest work, and the exposure to Japanese culture and beliefs. The myth is powerful, while the characters (both large and small) are intriguing.
Kirino retells a story from Japanese mythology. The narrative flows and the story was engaging. I'm not familiar with the original tale so I can't say much more.
Nov 05, 2015 Sil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Una decepción. No era mi mucho menos lo que esperaba a pesar de las pocas páginas, era indigerible.
May 03, 2016 Sanja_Sanjalica rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story and style, one of my favorites from the series.
Sep 13, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, first-reads
This review was originally published here.

I did not think I was going to like this book. Maybe it was winning it for free from a goodreads giveaway, past wins of which have not exactly been of stellar quality. Maybe it was because it’s one of those small-size hardcover books with gigantic margins and space between the words whose physical heft seems an attempt to disguise a lack of substance. Or maybe I just have not read many good myth/fable narratives. Archetypes bore me.

But other than one hug
Hidayah Ramlan
Reading from: physical book, library-borrowing
Plot: 6.8/10
Character: 5.9/10
Font: 7.1/10

Very disturbing and haunting. Love the concept but the ending was depleted for me. Overall, it was satisfying read!
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NATSUO KIRINO, born in 1951 in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) was an active and spirited child brought up between her two brothers, one being six years older and the other five years younger than her. Kirino's father, being an architect, took the family to many cities, and Kirino spent her youth in Sendai, Sapporo, and finally settled in Tokyo when she was fourteen, which is where she has been ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Canongate Myth Series (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • A Short History of Myth
  • The Penelopiad
  • Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles
  • The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
  • Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson
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“The living mourn the dead for a time but they forget about them as days pass. The living are so selfish, so spoilt, so taken with the very act of living that they don't remember long.” 10 likes
“Our gods did not come to us in any specific form, but we held them in our hearts and understood them in our own way.” 3 likes
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