Title: The Red Thread of Forever Love
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Buy Link: Buy Link The Red Thread of Forever Love
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: Novella (102 pdf pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK
A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: A wonderfully fresh Japanese paranormal which was sweet, cheeky, and had me laughing out loud.
Folklore researcher and PhD candidate Hank Caldwell has a problem. He’s come to Japan to get information for his book on supernatural creatures called yokai. Along the way he discovers that yokai are not only real, but one of them is determined to make Hank his forever lover.
Translator Daisuke Tachibana knows all about the shadowy figure in a business suit who keeps accosting Mr. Caldwell. He knows the creature must be stopped, but how? Their upcoming research trip to a remote, hot springs resort will be exactly the opening the yokai is looking for. Now if only Tachibana could stop thinking about Mr. Caldwell’s naked, freckled body submerged in steaming water long enough to formulate a plan to keep the amorous creature at bay.
Hank has a problem. Somewhere along the Japanese countryside he’s picked up a very amorous gay yokai — a Japanese love spirit whom he has lovingly dubbed “Fingers,” because he’s so handsy. He has been traversing the country with his publisher’s translator, Tachibana, researching for his book on Japanese folklore. Now he has to admit that the phenomenon he’s been academically researching is actually real, but he’d rather lie to the whole academic world than admit that the yokai he did meet is a gay spirit who proclaims to be his ‘forever love’ and keeps trying to ambush him in bathroom stalls or while changing to see if his carpet matches his drapes. At the same time, Hank is continually confused by his traveling companion Tachibana. He’s been traveling with the man for more than a year and though he seems so distant and is obviously straight, Hank is sure that Tachibana keeps checking him out whenever his back is turned. As they travel further north to study the story of The Devil of Lake Towada, Hank starts to miss his family. Its Christmas and he’s here alone with Tachibana and Fingers, wishing he had a boyfriend. Suddenly, Fingers doesn’t seem so bad, just overeager…
Tachibana, however, has an even bigger problem. Not only is he gay and in love with Hank, but he is the reason Fingers was let loose. But the further they travel together and the better they get to know each other as friends instead of coworkers, he might just be able to help Hank, send Fingers away, and end up with Hank all for himself — if he can only find the courage.
This novella was so thoroughly entertaining, I read it front to back and then front to back again, all in one day. I never do that, but when I finished it the first time, I had to go back and read the beginning again, where we see Fingers at his most hilarious, and I found I couldn’t stop reading. This story is so many different types of stories all wrapped up in one neat, little package. Its a fairy tale, a parable, a hilarious take on a Canadian’s experiences with the Japanese, and a story of two men whose worldview’s are changing. For Hank, this means his acceptance of the supernatural. For Tachibana, this means his acceptance of his sexuality and his latent spiritual powers. I won’t mention the creation of Fingers, even though it is told very early on, simply because I loved finding out in the prose and not the book’s blurb. Suffice to say, this is really a very important part of the story, so there is not a whole lot about the plot that I can tell you. That doesn’t matter, though, simply to say that Fingers was one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read. Essentially, he is a spirit created and imbibed with the virginal, horny, love-struck aspect of a boy/man. He is that horny teenage boy that has no filter on what he says while remaining completely endearing and loveable simply because of his ignorance. He is obsessed with every man that comes in Tachibana’s path (much to Tachibana’s consternation), but he knows that Hank is the one — evidenced by the red thread connecting his pinky to Hank’s pinky. Obviously, this must mean they share a true soul connection and are fated to be ‘Forever Loves.’
This is the first book I’ve read by Nicole Kimberling, and I must say that I will be looking at her other books. Her writing here is flawless — the prose written with a light and adept pen in direct correlation to the three main characters and their dance around each other. I lived in Japan for a while, and the story was interspersed with little cultural differences and tidbits that sent me right back to that feeling of such cultural difference. The differences of all the separate areas of Japan were represented really well — culturally and geographically. Though there were so many strong points in this read, the main stars were the characters, all of whom I fell in love with. Here are a couple of examples:
“I only want to be close to you.” The yokai’s long fingers tugged at the blankets. Hank held on firmly. He knew from previous experience that this particular spirit, whom he’d nicknamed “Fingers,” wouldn’t cause him bodily harm, but it got way too personal. “Can I look at your underpants? Are they Calvin Klein like before? I like your Calvin Kleins. Did you get them in Vancouver?”
“I told you, go away. My shorts are none of your business.”
“Do you work out?” … Hank lurched sideways, but too late. The tongue slapped against the side of his neck and slid like a hot washcloth up the side of his cheek. Long fingers fumbled at the elastic band of his pajamas. Hank grabbed them. Fingers let out a giggle. “You want to hold hands? There’s a red thread from my pinkie to yours … We’re fated to be together.”
Dear God, no!
The second time the yokai appeared was at the beach.
Sleepless and lonely, Tachibana had gone down at daybreak to watch the sunrise. Two young surfers had been there, taking advantage of the empty sand and waves. They had been stunning in their wetsuits. Tachibana had been watching them, imagining they were lovers. The way they talked to each other, smiled at each other seemed so beautiful that he had been filled with a yearning to join them. Suddenly, the yokai had come loping down the beach like an excited dog.
“I like you!” he’d roared, tie flapping behind him. “Please have sex with me!”
I loved this book. It is a pretty quick read, because it flows so smoothly. It is truly original and I have a feeling that it will remain one of my favorites of 2011. Highly Recommended. Enjoy!
On a side note, I love the cover art by April Martinez, which is what attracted me to this book in the first place