Review : The Game of 100 Ghosts by Terry Watada

The Game of 100 Ghosts is a clever and beguiling collection of poetry, interlinked by a parlour game of the Edo period. The premise of the game is that participants would gather at night when the sky was at its darkest. Then they light 100 candles. They would tell 100 ghost stories and snuff out a candle after each. Legend has it, when the last candle is extinguished there will be a supernatural visitation.

What I loved about this collection were the honesty and the evocative imagery. Watada uses evocative language to conjure intense emotion in the reader. The characterisations of every person are evident from just a few lines.

The poems in this collection are undeniably linked to the premise. It builds tension for the finale. In my opinion, the last few poems were an over-dramatical exploration of death that I couldn’t connect with as deeply as earlier poems such as ‘Prairie Luminescence’.

The slightly depressing nature does not detract from the beautiful descriptions and genius use of space and pacing. The lines are clipped, choppy style conveys a truthfulness that sets it apart from some of the whiney lamenting poems of the same topic.

I really enjoyed and connected with this poetry. It is unusual and relevant to common experiences. I’d recommend it to fans of Japanese poetry and storytelling. Thank you to Mawenzi house for providing me with an ebook copy to review.

If you wish to purchase a copy, you can get one through their website here with free shipping.

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