Onikoroshi, by Eon De Beaumont and Augusta Li is the first book I have read by either author. A tale that follows Alan and Graham as they visit Inabia, turns into a battle against a demon and an examination of what is truly good and evil.

Tricking Graham under false pretenses to go to the village, Alan was really following up on the speculation that a scholar, Harada, had found a real demon. This so called demon was creating an odd occurrence to take place in the small town and the townsfolk were becoming frightened.

When Harada finally comes clean about having released the demon and summoning Alan in order to help him to recapture the evil he had let escape, Graham becomes upset, feeling that he had been betrayed by Alan, thinking Alan had planned for them to vacation together, not for Alan to conduct research. As Alan, Graham, and Harada work out a plan to contain the evil which has been released, each comes to terms with their own demons of sorts.

What I found most intriguing about this story was how each character developed in unpredictable ways over the course of the story. Each person, through reflection and searching within, comes to learn about themselves and about each other. I found the way the authors handles the actual demon to be particularly surprising and thought-provoking.

There was a few aspects to the story which fell a bit short of my favorite kind of read. First, there was only one sex scene in the book. While the story wasn’t long and there was a speculative fiction plot line which took precedence, I would have enjoyed a bit more steam and heat. A couple of added romps wouldn’t have detracted from the story and would have heightened my perception of the love between the two main characters.

Second, given the length of the story, it felt some story items were a bit more than could be accomplished well within 55 pages. Graham’s history with men, Harada’s reasons for invoking the demon in the first place, Alan’s reasons for being so drawn to the study of demons, the demon’s past which influenced its current behavior; all of these things, if further developed, would have enriched the story for me.

With that being said, the use of language and imagery was outstanding. There was a sophistication to the way the authors painted the story and allowed it to unfold. In many ways, I felt like I was reading a myth or hearing folklore; the reading and story line filled with cultural reference.

Finally, when writing series, I am always mindful of the delicate balance of making reference to the previous book or books, while making the current book as stand-alone as possible. Eon de Beaumont and Augusta Li did this with finesse. With the caveat that this is a short story and therefore will not be as fleshed out as a full novel, Onikoroshi is a book well worth reading.

Book Blurb for Onikoroshi

# of pages or word count: 55 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy M/M Yaoi zombies eroitc romance
Heat rating: 3 Novas

In the sequel to Tree Fingers, scholar-magician Alan has planned a romantic trip to a Japanese hot spring to celebrate one year with his partner, Graham. They arrive in the rural village of Inaba in time to witness the Bon-Matsuri: the lantern festival to welcome back the spirits of the ancestors

Graham quickly realizes something isn't right in the little town, and that Alan may have had ulterior motives for visiting the area. Frustrated that Alan's curiosity about the supernatural has put them in danger again, Graham must decide whether to return to safety or stay face the creatures threatening the village.

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2011 4.00