The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can see how some readers would be disappointed by this volume in the Tales of the Otori series. I thought that the system of "magic" in the original trilogy felt very organic and well done. When it was expanded and made more central to the plot of THCoTH, it felt heavy-handed and overdone. I did not like the cat spirit possession or the Ghostmaster power that were central to this books plot.
Fans of the Kaede character would also find this book disappointing. Characterized by her strength, leadership, and and devotion to Takeo in the original series, she spends most of THCoTH in the background. Her daughters, unborn at the completion of the original trilogy, are the major female characters here. Kaede emerges in the final act only to further disappoint her fans, and while her actions are central to the denouement of the plot, her actions feel wildly out of character.
However, I give this novel such a high rating for one reason and one reason alone: I am a tragedy junkie. I love tragedies. I love the feeling in the pit of my stomach as everything starts to go wrong for these characters. And this final book the the Tales of the Otori timeline is a tragedy on a grand scale.
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