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姑獲鳥の夏 (百鬼夜行 #1)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In Japanese folklore, a ghost that arise from the burial of a pregnant woman is an Ubume.

The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan's hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spinoffs thus far.

Akihiko "Kyogokudo" Chuzenji, the title's hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn't blieve in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients' inability to come to grips
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単行本(ソフトカバー), 430 pages
Published by 講談社 (first published January 1st 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy Oakes
Like a 3.8 on the star scale
Summer of the Ubume is a mystery story with strong supernatural overtones, one that starts out a bit slow but picks up and gets progressively more weird as it moves along toward its ending, which is the most bizarre solution to a mystery I've run across in all of my years of reading. And I've been reading a long, long time.

The year is 1952, the place Tokyo. The war is over, the American Occupation has ended, people are trying to get back to "normal" life but quite ye
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Bloodytofu
One of my favourite novels ever, and a very nice translation - Alexander O. Smith has made a wonderful effort here overall, utilising challenging language forms which are consistent with both the original Japanese form and the storyline as translated. There are a couple of minor problems with the translation, mostly in terms related to everyday Japanese culture (are "rice-flower dumplings" actually "mochi" or "dango", or something else entirely?).

The story itself is delightfully logical. Kyogoku
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Zoe
Read the first 98 pages, and will not finish the other third. My review covers only the first 100 pages.

Set in an indeterminate time a few years after WWII, The Summer of the Ubume starts with a tabloid writer visiting his friend to talk about a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months. Which sounds really interesting, until the journalist's used book dealer/part-time Shinto priest friend spends FORTY-FIVE PAGES talking about everything else but the actual point of the book. This was a philosph
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izrtkfliers
Hmmm. This was an interesting book.

Alright. The first 80 pages or so are really slow. It's basically just the protagonist and Kyogokudo talking about metaphysics, folklore, and quantum uncertainty. A bit of a slog, but there are some necessary plot points in there nonetheless. After that, however, the mystery starts in earnest, and it is actually a really interesting mystery. I was completely caught up in all the different plot threads, ranging from the three dead babies to the mystery of Kyoko
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Mizuki
It's a goddamn masterpiece, plain and simple, I'd have given it 10 stars if it's allowed.

I read the Chinese translation years ago and it's still one of my most favorite Japanese's classical detective novels. The novel balances itself finely among different themes such as suspense, detective mystery, horror, traditional demon/ghost lore and romance. The ending is really twisted as well.
Jacqui Geisel
This was a very interesting mystery. I will admit, sometimes I found myself getting a bit annoyed and/or bored when Kyogokudo would start talking on and on and on about things (even though the things he goes on about are, of course, related to the plot), but it wasn't enough to stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. I'd heard that the solution to the mystery was rather disturbing, and indeed it was. I found myself still thinking about it quite awhile after I'd finished the book.

There are ei
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Violetta Vane
This book begins with fifty pages of two guys talking to each other. It ends with fifty pages of spill-the-beans mopping-up-the-case dialogue. There are really only two scenes in which things happen, and in both cases, they're shockingly violent. The languid pacing but big payoff reminded me a lot of the classic Nicolas Roeg horror movie, Don't Look Now.

Kyogokudo, the supposed "hero" of the book, is deeply unsympathetic and patronizing. The narrator, Kyogokudo's patsy, isn't terribly sympatheti
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Mason Jones
This is an odd one -- it's a mystery, yet it's not intended as a "mystery" novel in which you try to figure out who's behind the crimes. It's a supernatural book, yet there isn't as much supernatural stuff going on as you're led to believe. It's got quite a lot of history and philosophy, but it's not a polemic. It's a character study, but not really of the main character so much as his friends. I enjoyed it, and I'm curious to see what else Kyogoku has available in translation, if anything. But ...more
J.C.
I was very excited to read this book, unfortunately the authors writing style and my personal preference in story telling did not mesh. He is very descriptive and his conversations are long and I found difficult to follow. His writing is very good, the translation easy and flowing. I however am more into story telling; not verbose writers who spend three to four pages describing the bark of a tree (not that this author did that, its just an outrageous example). I would recommend this to someone ...more
Michael Mc Donnell
It took me a good while to find an extant copy of the english translation of The Summer of the Ubume. Having just finished it I can say that it was worth it. It was quite a dense read but extremely interesting. I think the comparisons of the author to Neil Gaiman are misguided, Gaiman's work while excellent doest really have the same "weight". I'd say a closer comparison wouuld be Umberto Eco, particularlly Foucault's Pendulum. While there are some surface similarities to Gaiman's use and re-use ...more
Ebblibs Thekstein
I have mixed feeling with this book. it is a slow starter as many reviewers have noted but since its a long book that might be expected. I don't really think it works well as a 'novel' since the action and plot is either stodgily linear...one step closer to the mystery or full of digressions on the scientific and supernatural not to mention philosophical musings of Kyogokudo, the central bookshop owner character of the yarn. its certainly bizarre but paradoxically not very mysterious and apart f ...more
M. A. P.
One of my favourite reads in the recent years.

The premise of this mystery novel is as follows: The freelance writer Tatsumi Sekiguchi investigates rumors of a woman who is claimed to have been pregnant for twenty months after her husband disappeared from inside a locked room. With the help of his friend, the book store owner Akihiko Chūzenji (referred to by the name of his store, Kyōgōkudō, throughout the book), whose vast knowledge of Japanese folklore is the only way to get to make sense of th
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daniel
there is nothing that is strange in this world, sekiguchi.
brianna
A horror/mystery novel all rolled into one, with an unconventional structure that interwove dialogue that seemed like a thesis on the nature of paranormal events versus psychology and neuroscience.

Set in 1951/52 in post-war Japan, the main characters are nearly all veterans of WWII, and at least two of them display symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Nearly all the characters have some kind of psychological issue following them, which makes it interesting when they make the foray into attempting
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Dyah Subagyo
It is a very fascinating read. This is the first time I read a crime book like this. Suffused with many elements - psychology, medicine, supernatural, it is a highly unusual book.
This book proves to be a page turner and is worth every rupiah and minutes I've spent.
Waiting for Vertigo to publish Natsuhiko Kyogoku's other works, namely the Kyogokudou series - frankly, this time I don't have any interest towards the Loups-Garous and his other works. If it doesn't have any desire to, well, maybe I'
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Keith
Having read a bit of Kyogoku in the original, I definitely sympathize with the translators here. Some of what is wrong with this novel is not their fault: Kyogoku often relies on clunky, unconvincing exposition via dialogue. It's an obnoxious and condescending habit. Given the exhaustive attention he has paid "yokai" and related phenomena in non-fiction works (like the superb "Youkai no kotowari, youkai no ori"), I'm not sure why he feels his characters must pontificate the way they (inevitably ...more
Montgomery Webster
Story: 5 / 10
Characters: 7
Setting: 3
Prose: 5

Probably a good book, if you are into mysteries. Sadly, I am not. Only read it because my house-mate had it lying around and I had been wanting to read more Japanese books. Nevertheless, the author introduced me to a lot of Japanese mythology. That was extremely interesting. Otherwise, the mystery itself was quite obscure. The final explanation was completely out of nowhere. I'll have to be more selective about which Japanese books I read in the future
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Kit Fox
So what we have here is a very, very, very Japanese locked room mystery peppered with elements of traditional folklore and postmodern views towards the supernatural. And if you're all, "Hey, is this one of those Japanese books where people talk around a subject for pages and pages instead of directly addressing it?" the answer is, of course, "Yes." Which adds to the whole Japanese-ness of it all; definitely an acquired taste. To me, the most interesting thing about this book wasn't so much what ...more
Scribe
Finished this a while back. Wow, this is a pretty crazy read though - trying to describe it is a little tricky, partly because it packs so much in, and partly because discovering what it's "about" seems like part of the fun.

Basically a mystery story, but tied in with psycho-magical theses and a driving, intriguing narration. Intense, clever - but I can't say if it's *too* clever or not. All I can say is that it worked for me, and that I found myself tearing through the second half to uncover ev
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Isidore
A tough call. Large sections of the novel are given over to a sort of Socratic dialogue between the narrator and his friend, Kyogokudo, regarding the nature of perception, and the trustworthiness of our interpretation of the world around us. By the end, one sees why Kyogoku went to so so much trouble to plant these ideas in the reader's mind, but it doesn't really come off: I simply was not sufficiently convinced by Kyogokudo's lengthy arguments as to be able to suspend disbelief when confronted ...more
Mely
Really powerful. Stayed up too late to finish. I'm not sure if it's misogynistic or not; it's definitely not judgmental, or if there's judgment it's not making it through the cultural translations. Some of the materialist talk-around gets tiresome, but -- reality as constructed, delusions and denial, women trapped by pregnancy or the lack of. Though mostly it's about the narrator, trapped by guilt and desire. I wonder if he narrates the others in the series.
Cheryl Xx
A very interesting books that will get the readers to start thinking and get scared by the content just by a short sentence. The lines are able to capture the readers' mind keeping them reading page by page, before they know it they have already read finished and craving for more. The mystery gave me a tinge of excitement and waiting to know what is going to happen the next page perharps it would have already been the last page i would not even realised.
Momo
This book was very good. Sometimes the conversations were a little hard to follow, but somehow, I still kept on reading it. I love how almost everything they talked about had to do with the case in one way or another. Although I don't know much about Japanese folklore, this book was great. It was so suspenseful as well.

I hope that the publisher continues on translating the books in the Kyogokudo series. I would love to read them all.
M
Reality vs unreality, existentialism, neurology, folklore, possession, mental health... Just your average Japanese novel then. A great book but weighed down with so many ideas it was hard to digest - I kept putting it down to ponder the dialogue and concepts. Not an easy read - and completely sticks two fingers up to traditional structure 'rules' (but most Japanese novels do), but one that certainly leaves its mark.
Magdalena
I adored it, only it's a bit frustrating that literally everything resolves on the lats 80 pages or so. You get a cliff-hanging action and then BAM! so much intensity in this last part, that your head starts spinning.
Nevertheless, it was an amazing story, an interesting fusion of everyday life and ancient tales.
I hope his other books will impress me just as much.
Corinna Bechko
Took a very, very long time to rev up. The first 50 or so pages were a sort of mixed bag of philosophizing and skepticism, with some metaphysics thrown in. As the story progressed things took a turn for the interesting, but the ending descended into another long explanation. I think I must just not possess the proper temperament for this sort of tale.
Sae-chan
I picked this book to soothe my soul after Yoshimura Akira's On Parole. I thought a ghosty mystery novel would have been good. I wanted to be spooked. Yea, right. I got spooked big time. But not that way.

This is a philosphical, psychological, turning-your-reasoning-head-upside-downal novel. Full of shikionis to spook you.
Yoko N
陰陽道に少しでも興味があれば二倍面白く、知識皆無でも面白い。
京極堂シリーズの第一弾、アニメ化・映画化の両方でも人気があったようだ。
原作の面白さにかなり近いのはアニメなので、読書大嫌い!と言うならそちらを。

著者が出している長編の中でもこれは短い方。恐らく、彼の長編シリーズ入り口という事で、手加減した分量なんじゃないか?とシリーズが進むと思う。

「見えているものは、君の脳がそう判断しているというだけで、ここに私が本当にいるのかどうかなんて、証明しようがない」
これは、現代のバーチャル・リアリティの入り口。時代背景は戦後まもなくなのだけれど、古くさくなく、面白い。
Amy
This book was an interesting read but there were some parts that was really long and hard to read. However, the unraveling of the mystery was quite disturbing but well done. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and I really lke how Japanese folklores were incorporated into the story.
Piratejenny
Sheer brilliance. I'd seen the TV series adaptation of Ubume's sequel, 'Moryo no Hako', and was intrigued to say the very least. I bought this excellent English adaptation and devoured it over two weeks in midsummer (which was fitting, considering the novel's title and setting).
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Goodreads Librari...: Should these be combined (Japanese) 3 172 Aug 04, 2012 09:14AM  
  • Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse
  • The Crimson Labyrinth
  • Naoko
  • Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination
  • The Stories of Ibis
  • Now You're One of Us
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain
  • Japanese Gothic Tales
  • The Tattoo Murder Case
  • Sayonara, Gangsters
  • All She Was Worth
  • Hell
  • The Inugami Clan
  • Be With You
  • Villain
  • Strangers
  • Kamikaze Girls
  • Dark Water

Other Books in the Series

百鬼夜行 (9 books)
  • 魍魎の匣 [Mouryou no Hako]
  • 狂骨の夢 [Kyōkotsu no yume]
  • 鉄鼠の檻 [Tesso no ori]
  • 絡新婦の理 [Jorōgumo no kotowari]
  • 塗仏の宴 宴の支度 [Nuribotoke no utage: Utage no shitaku]
  • 塗仏の宴 宴の始末
  • 陰摩羅鬼の瑕 [Onmoraki no kizu]
  • 邪魅の雫 [Jami no shizuku]
Loups-Garous (Novel) 魍魎の匣 [Mouryou no Hako] 狂骨の夢 [Kyōkotsu no yume] 鉄鼠の檻 [Tesso no ori] 絡新婦の理 [Jorōgumo no kotowari]

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“There is nothing that is strange in this world, Sekiguchi” 9 likes
“Why do you think I'm reading this? But you know—though maybe you have different standards for what constitutes 'interesting' than I do—there's no such thing in this world as an uninteresting book. Any book is interesting; and not just when it's new. Even books you've already read can be quite fascinating. It just takes a little more effort to get there, that's all.” 8 likes
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