Yokai Blues

Fiction - Urban
107 Pages
Reviewed on 02/04/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

John moved to Japan almost 7 years ago with hopes to discover what to do with his life. The first few years were a swarm of nightclubs, booze, and bad decisions. Typical for a country boy moving to the big city. He complained a lot. Still does from time to time. But the people he's met, the things he's done and has yet to do, keep him here in the beating heart of Japan. Tokyo is one amazing town. Now that he's been sober for over two years it's gotten even better. Cheaper as well.

Despite all of this love for Edo, he's still one of the most die-hard supporters of his ancestral home, Carrboro, North Carolina. Though it's just about impossible to find a good pulled pork sandwich in Tokyo. BBQ of any sort is scarce. John learned to adapt early on to the scarcity, Tokyo is full of excellent places to eat. The lure of vinegar based sauce is enough to get him back on a plane every once in a while though.

His first novel, Yokai Blues, is a 'Dear John' letter to his alcohol addiction. In it the struggles he faced and his love of his adopted home are on full display. Major influences include Haruki Murakami, a writer known for languid surrealism and Chuck Wendig, a writer known for fast paced ass-kickery. An interesting mix to say the least.

Call him John, with an 'h'. And yes, the 't' in LaTorre is capitalized. Pronounce the 'e'.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Barbara Garcia for Readers' Favorite

Yokai Blues by John LaTorre is the story of Nick, a detective that deals in Yokai Relations. Nick finds himself being stalked by a demon that kills people with a toxic cloud of cigarette smoke, evidently not only by the stench, but a yellowing of their skin. Nick, a heavy smoker and an alcoholic, is tormented by visitations of this demon, not just in his waking life, but in his dreams as well. Nick and his partner, an ogre named Tom, are finally able to destroy the demon, only to find that it was merely a friend of the real demon that haunts him. Nick also learns that it's actually him the demon wants and was only killing the other people to get his attention. With this grudge revealed, Nick must set out in earnest to discover what this demon really wants with him, and more importantly, what it will take to eliminate him.

Yokai Blues takes place in Tokyo, Japan, in a time where ogres and other assorted human like creatures, collectively known as Yokai, are a part of the masses. I appreciated the vivid descriptions author John LaTorre gave these creatures. It really brought them to life for me, and gave me a real sense of their lowly place in a society that just barely tolerates their presence. I laughed more than a few times at the ample, and often humorous, descriptions that showed the complete disarray of Nick's life. It's wasn't hard at all to see why he's haunted by demons, but I got a sense that the demon he was actually fighting came from within, a struggle not unfamiliar to most people. This was a lighthearted read, laced with deeper meaning I think people can relate to.