By Blue Spruell
A Book Review by Abby Lane
A story of myth and mythology with a narrative depth as sharp as a samurai’s sword.
In a world ruled by the sword, Tarō escapes the blade and certain death due to his mother’s quick thinking. Yama Uba finds the boy and assumes a mothering role, keeping him safe from harm while giving him an unusual vigor. After four years under her care, Tarō wrestles with his identity as well as his animal friends, who include Tanuki. A quest begins to uncover Tarō’s past. He faces obstacles and gains new friends like Kamehime. But if a boy is to become the brave samurai his father wanted him to be, he’ll have to take risks while also facing his father’s nemesis, Lord Monkey.
The novel Tarō reimagines three Japanese Folktales: Kintarō (Golden Boy), Urashima Tarō (Island Boy), and Momotarō (Peach Boy). The story takes readers on a mythical journey where sword and sorcery are strong elements. I was drawn in from the moment a mother placed her son in a basket. Lady Takeda’s dialogue stayed with me throughout the read: “Courage, Tarō!” or “Hide!” which are effective hooks in the heart of this story.
Tarō is a well-written novel, with a narrative depth as sharp as a samurai’s sword. In places the prose might be overly descriptive for some, and for others heroic…especially during swordplay and battle scenes. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Tarō and Tanuki, loyal friends who added comic relief throughout the story. A female audience will also revel in the fearlessness of Kamehime (think Mulan), a young woman drawing her sword in a male dominated world.
Tarō is perfect for Myth & Mythology fans.
Abby Lane is a Reedsy Discovery Reviewer. She was given this novel in exchange for an honest review. The original review was published on May 15, 2021 and can be viewed here.