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The Cat in the Coffin – Mariko Koike

by Vandana Hiranand


When aspiring artist Masayo is offered the opportunity to become a live-in housekeeper for Goro Kawakubo, a prominent art teacher and the son of a renowned painter, it seems like a dream come true. She would be receiving lessons from Goro and in turn tutoring his eight-year-old daughter, Momoko, who’s been a little too withdrawn since losing her mother. The child’s only companion is her cat, Lala.

While Masaya gradually wins her way into Momoko’s heart, the girl’s father begins to exert a charismatic spell over her. Everything seems to point a certain way until Goro presents the gorgeous Chinatsu – a lioness who is determined to be the new Mrs. Kawakubo.

An elegant, thrilling tale is masked behind the simplicity of Koike’s writing. Set in Japan and translated into English, this is a rather chilling, yet moving story with a number of twists and turns which are highly unexpected. The novel explores rather deep and sentimental themes while maintaining a light tone, easy for some quick bedtime reading.

In a short narrative, Koike encompasses the tangled relationships in an unusual household, using a range of highly unique and interesting characters, particularly that of Momoko’s and Chinatsu’s. The significance attached to the child’s pet cat is highly intriguing and surreal. Popular mystery writer and prestigious award winner, Mariko Koike has penned an unexpectedly unnerving novel, offering a brilliant insight into the world of highly unique characters. If you’re looking for something different and refreshing, this is a good place to start.

Rating: 3.9/5