3 of 5 stars.
A modern day folktale with many fantastical elements drawing from Japanese inspiration conveys the hero’s journey in a rather concise, but overly simplified form. This hero has no big lessons to learn, only obstacles to surmount.
Kazuko finds herself floating for 3 days on the back of a dead squid after a great tentacled beast takes down her ship and the rest of the crew. Luckily, she has her katana. The large eye in the middle of her chest [put there by a demon] spots an island. But this island is full of curiosities from bloody melons falling from trees and wriggling to heavier-than-water wood that burns like charcoal. And a white hare. That speaks.
After leading Kazuko to and from a cave where a large spider-woman nests, the white hare promises safe transit from the island on the backs of crocodiles if only the girl will slay the troll-like oni that lives in the island forest . . .
This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
[Check out my other reviews here.]