Monstrous Tales — Sija Hong
I am basing my rating purely on the art, or on this book as an art book, for reasons I will describe in the review below.
I totally got Monstrous Tales based on the cover and illustrations. They are so vibrant, bringing each folktale to life, and I was glad to see one of the Buso-Monkey (Philipppines). I’ve been staring at Sija Hong’s art forever, so this was a must-have for me!
As for the stories themselves, they were all available on public domain and collected and translated from all over the world. I’m actually a former translator (Chinese-German represent!), so I understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go behind such an underappreciated art.
That said, some of these stories were translated back in the 1860s, some a few years ago, so there’s a bit of inconsistency in style and quality. Some stories have footnotes, others just blast through and tell things as is while expecting you to keep up, etc. It’s fun to learn about but isn’t always fun to read. But because it’s basically a collection of stories that had been written/translated anywhere between 1800 and 2019, I feel unworthy lol, giving 200+ years of writing & translations a rating.
But, overall, I enjoyed Monstrous Tales. The stories are fun to read and learn about, but my rating is based on the art. I will definitely continue to stare at Hong’s art in the future.