Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

“Somewhere inside, these people are all quietly on fire.”

Where the Wild Ladies Are

Rating: 🪐🪐🪐🪐

A translated book of feminist short stories inspired by Japanese yōkai (ghost) folklore, including sapphic spectres and babes with body hair. This little book was an absolute joy to read.

Where the Wild Ladies Are is a collection of short stories that are loosely connected by way of a mysterious company that hires gifted people, regardless of whether they are alive or deceased. Despite the ghost tale concept, none of these stories are scary. In fact, the ghosts are the most likeable characters! Some are helpful, some are kind, and some just want to get back at their no-good, cheating ex-husbands.

This was a great day read; I breezed through it in about 3 hours, not once considering putting it down. The stories were all very clever and provided a variety of surface-level feminist commentary, with themes of body image, equality, relationship dynamics, and more. My two favorite stories were “Quite a Catch” and “Silently Burning”. I also appreciated the fact that the original stories were briefly summarized before the corresponding retelling, as I did not know anything about Japanese folklore before picking up this book.

I highly recommend this if you enjoy folktale retellings and are looking for a fun and easy read. I guarantee it will be unlike anything you have read before.

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