Book Review: Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan by Sean Michael Wilson

Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is a collection of six of traditional Japanese ghost stories told in graphic novel format by Sean Michael Wilson. All of them are very well known in Japan, where ghosts and demons are often called yokai, meaning "the mysterious and weird." Today these stories find expression mostly in movies and manga, but they remain rooted in the traditional ghost stories of the Edo era known as kaidan, which means "recited narrative of strange, mysterious, rare, or bewitching apparitions." The book includes an afterword by William Scott Wilson, the esteemed translator and editor of Japanese texts and samurai philosophy, who puts the stories into historical context.

Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is a good look at some of the traditional stories from Japan. I love learning about the folklore and legends from different parts of the world, and while two of the stories seemed vaguely familiar to me, the complete stories were new to me. I found it fascinating that despite the fact that these are ancient legends from the other side of the world, some ideas are consistent with the urban legends of my own region. I think it is important for readers to see that despite our differences and distance some parts of human existence is shared without ever having crossed paths. The black and white artwork was very well done and captured the emotion and atmosphere of the stories. The collection was a solid read, and while it did not keep me up at night, it certainly had a creepy vibe that stayed with me for a while.


Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is an interesting and entertaining collection of traditional Japanese ghost stories. I would recommend it to young adults and adults that enjoy ghost stories and legends, particularly those from other cultures. 
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