cover image The Gate of Sorrows

The Gate of Sorrows

Miyuki Miyabe, trans. from the Japanese by Jim Hubbert. Haikasoru, $26.99 (600p) ISBN 978-1-4215-8652-6

Miyabe’s follow-up to 2010’s The Book of Heroes stands well on its own and is thematically timely, but it doesn’t always take its own lessons to heart. Strange occurrences are piling up in present-day Tokyo: an unfamiliar scythe-bearing gargoyle appears to be moving of its own accord, homeless people have gone missing, and a serial killer preys on the innocent. College student Kotaro investigates the disappearance of his friend Kenji; Shigenori, a former police detective sidelined by a leg injury, looks into the gargoyle phenomenon. Both cases collide when they encounter an entity brought to this world to harvest human desire, who may be the key to stopping the killer. Translator Hubbert skillfully maintains all the grammatical nuances of the original Japanese, a key aspect of understanding the novel’s themes. Miyabe has some valuable points to make about misconduct and harassment on the Web, and how online personas can’t be distinguished from offline selves. But despite all her emphasis on the importance of words and avoiding their misuse, Miyabe disappointingly kills off (and misgenders) a trans character for a little bit of cheap shock value, a shameful detail in an otherwise well-crafted adventure. (Aug.)