Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Hotsuka is a Meijin, an immortal incorporeal being tasked with exploring the universe and all the life forms contained in it. Hotsuka's Story by J.F. Mehentee is the first book in the Dragon Pearl series and tells how Hotsuka wakes in the depths of a black cave, alone, weak, and helpless until he is visited by Lord Takeo, Father Meijin himself. Lord Takeo, displaying an anger that knows no bounds, demands an explanation for Hotsuka's unspeakable conduct. Here the story unfolds to reveal that Hotsuka had become infatuated with Shernaz, a beautiful human who is now expecting his child. As a punishment for his actions, Hotsuka is condemned to spend the remainder of his life within the cave until the world comes to an end. But this is not to be.
Before long, Hotsuka is released by the Queen of Patalama, and, assisted by Tenshi, a Djinni who becomes a close friend, he comes back into the world as a human, albeit with some latent powers which he must learn to harness and control. His first imperative is to find Shernaz and his son, but discovering that his son has been adopted, he heads off in search of him. Tenshi cautions him that finding his son is not his true purpose and that he must learn to read the skein of time in order to discover his destiny, the reason he has been released, and the reason that both he and his son have been allowed to live. This is a task that will take him many years, involve him in numerous adventures, including a period as a monk, before the final astonishing denouement in which the future of the Meijin, the world, and the universe itself may never be the same again.
Hotsuka's Story is a fantastic piece of fiction anchored in the myths and legends of India, China, and the Far East. It is a multi-layered tale steeped in Asian folklore, but remarkably clear and intelligible for a Western reader. The narrative is delivered in the first person and, using this technique, Mr Mehentee, who is an accomplished and capable author, has succeeded in presenting what could have been a rather complex tale in a straightforward, coherent way. I thoroughly enjoyed Hotsuka's Story and look forward to reading the following episodes in the Dragon Pearl series, of which there are six in total. An original and highly recommended work of fantasy for all fans of the genre.