3 of 5 stars.
Attributing natural disasters to supernatural causes is common through many folklores. Here, the cause and effect of a probable volcanic earthquake remains murky but the cultural interpretation of the event contains clues.
After an earthquake ravages ancient Edo, a part of the mainland is found to have broken off. Lesser Boso, now completely surrounded by water, still has people living on it but in a desperate state. Black smoke, seen as restless earth spirits, rise from fissures in the ground on Lesser Boso and many of the inhabitants are psychologically compromised under the influence of the black smoke. The mainland residents consider the entire island cursed and allow little movement between the island and the mainland even though the earth spirits cannot cross water.
Young, intelligent Mariko seems not to be affected by the spirits. She receives the rare chance to become an ambassador for the plight of those left behind on Lesser Boso . . .
This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
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