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Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale

Monogatari: Book 1

NisiOisiN

Around midnight, under a lonely street lamp in a provincial town in Japan, lies a white woman, a blonde, alone, robbed of all four limbs, yet undead. Indeed, a rumor's been circulating among the local girls that a vampire has come to their backwater, of all places. This legendary vampire, Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, has met her match in a very unexpected place.

Koyomi Araragi, who prefers to avoid having friends because they'd lower his "intensity as a human," is naturally skeptical. Yet it is to him that the bloodsucking demon, a concept "dated twice over," beckons on the first day of spring break as he makes his way home with a fresh loot of morally compromising periodicals.

Always disarmingly candid, often hilariously playful, and sometimes devastatingly moving, KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is the perfect gateway into the Monogatari series of author NISIOISIN.

Bakemonogatari, Part 1: Monster Tale

Monogatari: Book 2

NisiOisiN

There's a girl at their school who is always ill. She routinely arrives late, leaves early, or doesn't show up at all, and skips gym as a matter of course. She's pretty, and the boys take to whispering that she's a cloistered princess. As the self-described worst loser in her class soon finds out, they just don't know what a monster she is.

So begins a tale of mysterious maladies that are supernatural in origin yet deeply revealing of the human psyche, a set of case files as given to unexpected feeling as it is to irreverent humor. So begins the legendary novel that kicked off the MONOGATARI series, whose anime adaptations have enjoyed international popularity and critical acclaim.

This first of three parts introduces Senjogahara and Hachikuji, and fans of the blockbuster prequel KIZUMONOGATARI will be delighted to meet their favorite crazies again: the weirdly reliable narrator Araragi, class president among class presidents Hanekawa, shady problem-solver Oshino, and a certain pale, blonde former vampire.

Bakemonogatari, Part 2: Monster Tale

Monogatari: Book 3

NisiOisiN

Bakemono, literally "altered thing," which translates as "monster." Monogatari, literally "thing narrated," which translates as "tale." Combined into a neologism by he of the reversible nom de plume, they yield BAKEMONOGATARI, the monster tale that kicked off a series whose anime adaptations have enjoyed international popularity and critical acclaim.

A self-described loser, Koyomi Araragi is struggling at a prep school that he should never have gotten into. He has all but quit caring, but as a senior, he faces the chilling scenario of not being able to graduate. It's time to cram, but the supernatural aberrations that keep on popping up in his provincial town won't let him be.

Previously, our hero turned into a vampire and back, gained an acid-tongued girlfriend, and couldn't find his way home thanks to a lost child. In this second of three parts, which introduces Suruga Kanbaru and Nadeko Sengoku, he becomes embroiled in a case that riffs on a classic English story from 1902.

Bakemonogatari, Part 3: Monster Tale

Monogatari: Book 4

NisiOisiN

A class president among class presidents, a bespectacled model student who soars to the top of honors lists without fail, Tsubasa Hanekawa also happens to be a decent human being. True, she does have a habit of making single-minded assumptions, but they come from a good place and turn out to be fortuitous as often as not.

Loser extraordinaire Koyomi Araragi owes her his post of class vice president and a more significant debt of gratitude for her unstinting support during the darkest spring break of his life. All of it has blinded him to the possibility that his saintly classmate's family situation might be no less adverse than that of his other lady friends.

Thus, at last, we face Hanekawa's unlikely aberration in "Tsubasa Cat"--the concluding part of the legendary novel that captured the sensibilities of a new generation in the aught years and spawned an animated series that has won international popularity and acclaim--before the story continues with a Fake Tale...

Nisemonogatari, Part 1: Fake Tale

Monogatari: Book 5

NisiOisiN

Unlike ne'er-do-well former vampire Araragi, his two younger sisters Karen and Tsukihi, who attend a private junior high, are little balls of energy and charisma that their peers look up to. That the "ka" in Karen and "hi" in Tsukihi are both written with the character for "fire" isn't the only reason they've come to be known as the Fire Sisters.

Karen is the brawn and Tsukihi the brains of a vigilantism that the pair sees not merely as defending justice but as justice itself. They can't encounter a harmful fad without trying to hunt down a specific source that had a motive for spreading it. In their big brother's humble opinion, there is something fake and precarious about it all.

In this first of two parts, the immediate sequel to the legendary BAKEMONOGATARI plunges us into the middle of summer vacation in the mostly peaceful rural town where the series is set. As our hero and narrator can say from experience, however, teenagers with too much free time on their hands can get stung pretty badly.

Nisemonogatari, Part 2: Fake Tale

Monogatari: Book 6

NisiOisiN

Originally planned to be the series' conclusion, "final" chapter "Tsukihi Phoenix" invites us back to the seemingly eventless country burg where supernatural afflictions abound and characters change their trademark hairstyles at the drop of a hat. Rest assured, dear reader, that the story continued in Japanese and will do so in translation.

In the first half of Fake Tale, lost soul Araragi helped resolve his bigger little sister Karen's feverish run-in with a fraud. In this second half, he must attend to his littler little sister Tsukihi's issues, but not before staging the Toothbrush Episode that the acclaimed anime adaptation's viewers find quite memorable--whether they like to or not.

As fraught with ominousness as a dark empty street, as unexpectedly full of feeling as an acid-tongued girlfriend, as sidesplittingly funny as a horny retired jock, and (maybe even) as educational as college in the best MONOGATARI tradition, this volume also introduces us to "ghostbusters" Yozuru Kagenui and Yotsugi Ononoki.

Nekomonogatari (Black): Cat Tale

Monogatari: Book 7

NisiOisiN

Following up on the high note of family ties on which the previous installment concluded, but preceding it chronologically, we find Araragi and his little sister Tsukihi, the heroine of the last volume, in full sibling rivalry mode as they bicker about love. The conversation that cannot end unfolds in its unabashed original glory herein.

Like KIZUMONOGATARI, which delved into our narrator's disastrous spring break, Cat Tale (Black) is a prequel about another catastrophe, mentioned often yet never recounted even in a foregoing chapter dedicated to Miss H.: namely, the model student's rampage over Golden Week, a string of holidays starting at the end of April.

Closing out what has come to be known as the "First Season" of the series, this episode of 'GATARI, as rich as ever in silly banter and poignant profundities, richer than usual in snide meta comments about the anime, will make you laugh and cry, or just put a grownup smile on your face, maybe, but is guaranteed to stay with you forever.

Nekomonogatari (White): Cat Tale

Monogatari: Book 8

NisiOisiN

Launching into new territory that the author hadn't mapped out when he embarked on the series, NEKOMONOGATARI (White) tells the tale of heroine Tsubasa Hanekawa from her own perspective, in her own voice--if that can hold true for a damaged soul who, depending on who you're asking, suffers from a split personality or a supernatural aberration.

The bone-chilling brokenness of her household, where father and mother and daughter keep three separate sets of cookware in the same kitchen and only ever prepare their own meals, and the profound darkness nurtured in the genius schoolgirl's heart, come to life, if that is the word, through her self-vivisection.

As for our customary unreliable narrator, Araragi, we seem to learn revealing tidbits about him now that we have an outside view of him at last, while his lady friends Senjogahara, Hachikuji, et al, freed from his predilection for proudly inane banter, show subtly new faces to us via their female interlocutor. Welcome to the Second Season.

Kabukimonogatari: Dandy Tale

Monogatari: Book 9

NisiOisiN

How far does one go to help a lost child? In the case of returning narrator Araragi, the answer is too far, across the veil of time. Dutifully (if unknowingly) following up on Hachikuji's cheeky foreshadowing, he concerns himself with his young lady friend and her fate in this installment of the cult-hit series, heroically unable, once again, to find his own way home.

Thus the tale is also, or more so, about the journey itself, the dark honeymoon of a trip he takes into the past with the dweller in his shadow, Shinobu. Even among a cast that routinely disrespects chronology with their meta-commentary, she takes the cake, or the donut, by rewinding the clock for a perverse road movie, one that by and large goes nowhere, spatially.

It's Kabuki not as in the theater, but with the character for "tilt"--as in a slanted attitude toward the world, the posture of a bohemian. Or, perhaps, of a legendary vampire who once sought death, and of a high school senior who once tuned out life doing their dandy best to attend to an embarrassing wealth of aberrations in a provincial town.

Hanamonogatari: Flower Tale

Monogatari: Book 10

NisiOisiN

Our sorry hero, his reformed girlfriend, and the amnesiac class president have all graduated from their high school out in the boondocks, and self-described Sapphist and ex-basketball ace Kanbaru, retired by reason of an "injury," is starting her senior year and the narrator of this volume--her voice far more introspectivethan the smutty jock's we thought we knew.

Bereft of the company of her beloved mentors, the only other person around her with any working knowledge of aberrations the junior Ogi Oshino, apparently a relative of the Hawaiian-shirted folklorist, she feels a bit alone and blue, and sick with dread that the devil residing in her left arm courtesy of the Monkey's Paw might act up again while she sleeps.

Investigating a rumor that she fears might lead back to her, the former star ends up peering into an abyss of negativity called Roka--a "wax flower" to take the characters' meaning. Trapped in a pit the like of which could only be escaped by the one girl who was able to pull off slam-dunks in her basketball nationals, can the penitent Kanbaru, however, still be aggressive?

Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter

Yamada Monogatari: Book 1

Richard Parks

In an ancient Japan where the incursions of gods, ghosts, and demons into the living world is an everyday event, an impoverished nobleman named Yamada no Goji makes his living as a demon hunter for hire. With the occasional assistance of the reprobate exorcist Kenji, whatever the difficulty--ogres, demons, fox-spirits--for a price Yamada will do what needs to be done, even and especially if the solution to the problem isn't as simple as the edge of a sword. Yet, no matter how many monsters he has to face, or how powerful and terrible they may be, the demons Yamada fears the most are his own.

Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate

Yamada Monogatari: Book 2

Richard Parks

Yamada no Goji is a minor nobleman of ancient Japan who has lost everything - except a single purpose: keep a promise to the woman he loved. In order to fulfill his vow, all he has to do is fight a horde of demons and monsters, bargain with a few ghosts, outwit the sinister schemers of the emperor's court, find a way to defeat an assassin who cannot be seen, heard, or touched - and change the course of history. Fortunately, Yamada specializes in achieving the seemingly impossible, so he is sure in some way to succeed... if he doesn't drink himself into oblivion first.

Yamada Monogatari: The War God's Son

Yamada Monogatari: Book 3

Richard Parks

The Abe clan and its allies are in full rebellion. When the Emperor's greatest military leader, Yoshii, is targeted for assassination by magic, it is up to the newly sober Lord Yamada and his exorcist associate Kenji to keep the young man alive long enough to put down the uprising before the entire country is consumed by war. Yamada knows how to deal with demons, monsters, and angry ghosts, but the greatest threat of all is one final assassin, hidden in a place where no one - especially Lord Yamada - would ever think to look.

Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow

Yamada Monogatari: Book 4

Richard Parks

Lord Yamada is called away "one last time" from his newly restored estates in Kamakura to help Prince Kanemore ensure that Princess Teiko's son, Takahito, inherits the Chrysanthemum Throne. Unfortunately, assuming the throne proves to be the easy part. Yamada must then help Takahito renounce that throne in such a way as to hobble the power of the Fujiwara clan forever!