Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Neko Brushes, by Leah Cypess

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(Japanese Historical Fantasy) Kenji is just a boy, and a commoner at that, but his extraordinary drawing ability attracts the attention of nobles and draws him into their plots. (4,016 words; Time: 13m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Captivating and Memorable

"Neko Brushes," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 05-06|17, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story of Kenji’s career interlocks nicely with the story of Lady Kiri and Lord Yiromo’s rebellion. He rises, but they fall. That’s satisfying because he deserves to rise. We don’t mourn Yiromo one bit, but lady Kiri is more ambivalent; she doesn’t really seem evil up until the last.

It’s deliciously ironic that he benefits so much from their training that the monks think he’s a disgraced nobleman, not a mere common boy, and it’s very fitting that he ends where he began: drawing cats.

Neko (猫) is the Japanese word for cat.

Con: There is a little confusion around the outcome of the rebellion. Lady Kiri thinks Kenji deliberately drew a flaw into the sword, but we know he didn’t, although he did want it to fail. It seems there should be some connection between the picture of her he drew and the failure of the rebellion, but I can’t see what it is. Perhaps someone else will have a better idea.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I think he did (perhaps unconsciously) put a flaw in the sword. The cat he drew doesn't like Yiromo. In a similar way, he may have affected the sword. Also, he's crying as he watches Kiri leaving...thinking she won't be coming back to take him to court. And when he finishes drawing her, he apologizes to her...for betraying her?