Review: Late Summer, Early Spring

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Reasons for Inclusion: Japanese characters and setting, gay protagonists

Publisher’s Summary: 

Hour of the Lotus
General Sho Iwata is devastated when the man he secretly loves, Prince Narita, is struck with a mysterious illness. Iwata’s current lover, Hiroshi, is well aware of the general’s unrequited passion. But that isn’t his biggest problem. His sister is Narita’s favorite consort, but Hiroshi believes she has been replaced by an imposter. When they discover the true cause of the illness, they will have to battle an ancient spirit and survive.

Fox Hunter
Lord General Iwata Sho sets out in search of the mysterious Fox Hunter. When he finds his former lover, Hiroshi, he discovers a changed man, scarred inside and out and consumed by vengeance. Together with Narita’s grown son Daigo, Iwata and Hiroshi pursue the malicious spirit as it leaves bloodshed in its wake. Iwata worries about what will become of Hiroshi when the fox is defeated—if Hiroshi’s revenge doesn’t kill him first.

My Review:

(5/5 stars)

In a mythical Japan where spirits haunt the living, loyal General Sho Iwata struggles to protect the men he loves.

The first story is fast-paced and reminiscent of folktales and legends. Iwata and his lover, Hiroshi, must save the Prince from a spirit that is draining his life, a spirit that has disguised itself as Hiroshi’s beloved sister.

The second, longer tale picks up eight years later. Iwata sets out to find Hiroshi, who has become consumed by his quest for revenge against the kitsune that killed his sister. But the years have changed both of them, and they will have to deal with both the spirits and their relationship on the journey.

These stories draw on Japanese culture and mythology without ever stumbling into awkward exposition. The magic is an indispensable part of the landscape, smoothly woven together. The characters are as believable as their world.

Iwata is all about military precision and merciless disipline. Hiroshi is more endearing in the first story. He shows his emotions a little more, which makes his transformation into the cold Fox Hunter even more shocking.

The second story gives more insight into the characters’ personalities. Their quest allows time for them to interact, to argue, to yearn for their goals. And eventually, to express their love.

Late Summer, Early Spring is a perfect treat for anyone looking for beautiful writing, ancient mythology, and casual inclusion of gay characters.

(ARC received from Netgalley)

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