I’ve been a fan and follower of author Tara Devlin for a while now, so I was very excited to grab a copy of her novel, Kage, as one of my October reads.
Kage tells the story of Megu, a down-on-her-luck woman struggling to get through her dreary day to day existence. Her life is upturned when she encounters another woman being pursued by a dark shadow, and she is quickly pulled into a dangerous, exciting mystery stained with bloodshed.
Devlin is very adept at building up a creepy atmosphere that leaves the reader wanting more. What is this shadow? What does it want? It’s the kind of mystery that keeps the pages turning. While easy to read, the story is a slow burner that takes its time delivering its Japanese brand of horror.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was the fact that life didn’t stop for Megu when the haunting began. Often in stories like these, the horror takes over all else. Little things like going to work slip through the cracks. In this case, there is still a job to go to, classes to take (they were already paid for and you better believe our girl Megu isn’t about to lose out on those investments), and a little cat in an alley to feed. It lends an air of refreshing realism to the story.
I did struggle a bit with characterization. The romantic relationship seemed underdeveloped for its intensity and some of the minor characters were rather two-dimensional when placed beside Megu, who was always very human. I also felt the ending didn’t quite live up to the story leading to it. For all of the fantastic build up, it came off anticlimactic and, in my opinion, fell just short of being truly satisfying.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of psychological horror who aren’t looking for an in-your-face gore fest. At its heart, it’s a tale of people, how we hurt one another, and how we can heal each other, all wrapped up in a creepy little black bow.