Tale of a White Night
written by Tooko Miyagi
Tale of a White Night is actually a collection of tales told in vignettes, not a single tale the way the title might suggest. They’re mostly horror tales, perhaps best described as Horror Lite. They’re creepy more than outright scary, aiming to give readers shivers, not nightmares.
In the first story, “Offering,” a boy has dropped out of school and is living rurally with his grandmother. There are stories about oni living in the mountains who use parts of corpses to make their own dolls. Supposedly there are no other young people around, but the boy meets a girl in the forest one day — a girl both pretty and eerie. Before long he suspects she might be an oni, and while she denies it, his life isn’t safe because of what she wants from him.
After that, in an even creepier story, “Funeral,” children kill animals just to see things die. One boy decides he wants to kill a person to see it, and he may just get his wish. This is the most disturbing story in the bunch.
The next story, “The Fall,” has a girl come across some foxes who insist they’re actually gods. They aren’t lying, and the girl has to figure out how it was she came to be in the realm of the gods.
The fourth story, “Invitation,” is about a terrible curse that seems impossible to end. The main character believes he might have been part of this curse and it made him kill a person. He sees a white hand beckoning to him, a hand most people don’t see — and if he follows it, it will only bring about death and suffering.
The last story, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” is longer than the rest and feels as if it doesn’t fit in this collection at all. The art style is so different it could be the work of another artist, and it’s not a horror story, either. Unfortunately, it’s also not as strong as the other tales.
Despite some issues with the last story, the rest of Tale of a White Night is strong. It’s not extreme horror, but it works at being creepy and spooky, often in a psychological and suggestive way. For the first four stories, Miyagi’s artwork is very graceful, reminiscent of her style in Il Gatto Sul G. It may not be the most typical art for a horror read, but it doesn’t feel at all inappropriate; in fact, it gives the stories a certain elegance.