The world of “Kappa Quartet” may seem awfully big when you begin reading the story written by Singaporean writer Daryl Qilin Yam, but its actually compounded into something that becomes familiar as you meet new character and get to explore the world further.
“Kappa Quartet” is a very heavily based around dialogues of many types of characters, some human some kappas, beings inspired by Japanese folktales. The books is divided into number of segments in which you slowly but surely peak little further into who kappas are, how they interact with the world of humans and what soul really means to the characters you encounter while you skip from Singapore to Japan.
Personally I enjoyed the story very much and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, mythology and bit of philosophy in the mix. Four keywords I kept connecting to this book and its story, ~soul; ~kappa; ~music and ~mystery.
~soul; the Kappa Quartet deals lightly with what soul means to people, how can people live without one and how can it be snatched away from you within seconds. In psychology today, the sense of lost soul is connected with traumatic experience and post-traumatic stress. In similar sense, the emotion connected to the feeling of loosing one soul lingers lightly throughout the whole story.
~kappa; The main theme of this book are kappas, don’t feel bad if you have never heard of it – the world of mythology is vast, old and for most parts unknown to large scale of readers. Kappa is a mythological creature that inhabits the bodies of water in Japan, and some parts of Japan even post warnings against Kappa today. If Kappas (water deities) were to be described, by their personality they are very cunning, playing tricks on humans, capable of stealing their soul. While some kappas can be peaceful, some can be very violent and in folktales they are generally creatures that are feared. They have many typical physical features, the one that appears the most in the Kappa Quartet is the hole on top of their heads. You can read more about the mythology of this water demon here.
~music and particularly jazz music plays big part of the book, adjusting its ambient but also binding the appearing character together with more ease. Some parts of the book reference to jazz songs and artists, such as John Coltrane. Quartet itself, as book hints, is very important to its story, though you might be surprised in what meaning.
~mystery is the last keyword I connected to the book while reading it. The thing is, the story is constantly within your reach but as you think you are ready to grasp it, it slips right through your fingers. You will reach it eventually, when the story comes to its conclusion, but many mysteries will remain unresolved, as is often the case in folktales as well.
Daryl Qilin Yam is a Singaporean writer who works very hard on sharing the literature written by writers and artists from Singapore with the rest of the world, also through Sing Lit Station, a charity and organisations supporting starting writers. Kappa Quartet is a first novel written by this author in 2016.
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