This review does not contain spoilers.
Car boot loaded with his wares, Naos Tana leaves his Oshi Daini apartment at dawn, setting a gruelling pace for the Sato Area. With him travels the rat. The rat is a disguise, a way to mask a business trip of malicious intent as a harmless holiday. That rat is a young boy—Naos’s son.
Well, holy CRAP. This novella was horrifying. Not horrifyingly bad. In fact, it was quite good. But Naos Tana is actually a scary character. I was worried about the rat; I was worried about what Naos would do to him. From the first page I was emotionally involved and that kept me totally hooked.
It took me a little while to realise that the rat was Kaiyu Tana, the main character from Under the Bright Water. All the signs were there but I was staring wide-eyed at my Kindle, feeling sick to my stomach about the things I was reading because they seem real. I feel like I’ve heard about these things before, or maybe even typed something like this in my job as a court typist. Or maybe it’s just the writing that makes it feel incredibly real and close.
With a young character you run the risk of making their voice too young and babyish. I felt like Kaiyu’s voice was appropriate, especially considering the type of environment he was subjected to. The author’s writing has evolved between this book and the last. Sentences are shorter, sharper, and more evocative. This novella as a whole is darker and more dangerous than its predecessors and the tone shifted to match.
As much as The Rat horrified me, it was well-written and it’s going to stay with me for a long time. I love the way this story cycle is evolving. Each instalment keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see how it continues to progress.