Shocking and Enlightening -
Male/male erotica is a genre I was unfamiliar with until I picked up this book. I did not know about the plot and was intrigued by the synopsis about an elite warrior society inside an ancient Japanese culture.
I've read BDSM, but not in the way Ms. Batto writes. This is not a story for the faint of heart. I cringed at some parts, and I'm not someone who is easily shocked. The sexual torture scenes are difficult but not gratuitous. They are vital to the story, as are the scenes of love, redemption, and hope.
More than anything, Ms. Batto honors the story, her characters, and treats the taboo subject of torture with brilliance and care.
This book comes up behind you just like the ninjas it portrays. First you think you are in the conventional tale of ninja clans and the rivalry between them. Then all hell breaks loose.
'Shinobi: Concealed in Shadows' is an immensely readable book; it is brilliantly written and full of wit and it balances this side of parody due to Sessha Batto's respect for narrative that moves apace.
Now for the filth...This book is full of purest, most imaginative and extreme pornographic description I have read in a long time. It's a truly great feat to write sexual cruelty and brutal rape whilst keeping the reader focused on the story line. I found myself wondering whether it was the filth or the romance that I was actually following.
Let's get this clear, porn shouldn't be this well written, have characters this amusing and well rounded and it shouldn't make me laugh out loud at a torture scene when I'm in the dentist's waiting room! Luckily, nothing on the cover hints at the blueness of the contents and I live in France. *Phew!*
You won't put it down, you'll be appalled at your corrupted morals that you managed to read it all but you will-read-it-all.
Shinobi: Concealed In Shadows is definitely one of a kind, at least until Sessha reveals the next instalment.
I can't wait.
Not like anything I've ever read before -
Shinobi is such an unusual book I don't really know what I'm feeling right now, after just having finished reading it. When you're pushed that far out of your comfort zone, you fail to have handles (words) to describe your emotions. First and foremost, sexual torture of this magnitude and in this setting (the Japanese ninja society, where absolute loyalty to the clan is at order) is difficult to digest. I'm not good with torture and sexual torture is the worst but I agree with the other reviewers that these scenes are essential to the story and are written in such a way that there is absolutely no gloating over the facts. But you feel what Yoshi feels and that doesn't feel human at all. It frightened the guts out of me and I'm glad these pitch dark parts are counterbalanced with scenes of love and hope, or it would have been a grim book indeed.
What I liked most about the book - and I'm really awed by the skills and knowledge of Sessha Batto - is the description of the Japanese warrior society. I especially liked all the words and explanations at the end of the book, which show how well-informed the author is. She is right on top of her subject and it is always fantastic to learn about cultures you know nothing about! The characters fit perfectly into their setting. I also liked the immaculate writing and flawless editing. A very talented writer indeed!
As I said at the beginning, I'm not very good with torture and male sex is not really my thing, so I wouldn't pick up a book like this every day, but I have immense admiration for Ms Batto and I am 100% sure that in its genre this is the very best book there is.
So it's definitely a book I would recommend because of its unique plot and wonderful, complex characters in an - to most of us - unknown society. I am sure I will always remember Shinobi as the most original book I've ever read. Glad I could give it 5 stars.
Beautiful, Disturbing, Haunting and Compelling -
All are very suitable adjectives for this novel. There are some very disturbing scenes of violence and sexual abuse in this book, but all of them are necessary to the story. There is nothing gratuitous about it.
And at the center of this story is a character who has had to execute and endure the most heinous acts in the name of his clan. Now Yoshi has reached the bottom of self-degradation. In a desperate act of salvation and survival, he reaches for a hand to help pull him out of the pit into which he has descended. And the hand that he finds, the hand he must trust, is that of a man almost as denigrated as himself.
The plot of this novel is flawless. Who else could even reach out to touch someone who has descended so far, but a man who has himself led a far from impeccable life?
Everything else aside, it is the struggle of these two characters with their own demons, and the desperate desire to redeem their own corruption and resurrect that which is still pure and clean within, that which is deserving of honor and mercy, that powers this novel of terrible beauty.
Revealing and compassionate -
Elizabeth Jasper Writer
Like other reviewers, this is the first time I have read about homoerotic relationships and I found the book most enlightening. I concur with previous reviewers about the compassion and understanding shown by the author about abuse and obedience, respect and love. The main story - about Yoshi and Makoto, is wonderful. I also enjoyed learning about a completely different society and liked the magical touches throughout the story.
What I didn't like so much was the repetitive nature of the sexual encounters between Daisuke and Souta - too many, and to much alike. Once or twice is fine, but this particular relationship was beginning to descend into farce by the end of the story and it detracted from the serious and painstaking construction of the world of Shinobi that I was enjoying so much. The contrast between the highly-charged Yoshi storyline and the later, almost banal everyday life described once Yoshi was safe didn't quite work for me.
It wasn't easy to discern exactly when the story was set - the blurb says it it set in modern times, but I really didn't feel that at all, apart from some modern language in dialogue. It could just as easily have been set in the distant past.
Finally, because of the sheer number and similarity of so many names and unfamiliar terms, I would vastly prefer that information to be given at the beginning of the book rather than at the end.
Very good, original themes and generally good writing, with highly unusual sexual content, but I'm not sure I can say I 'enjoyed' this book overall.
Jessica L. Degarm
Shinobi was an unexpected surprise for me. I knew what the book was about, having seen it mentioned on several social networking sites, but I had no idea it was as good as it was!
Shinobi takes place in modern day Japan, where clans of ninjas are at war with each other. Yoshi, the main character, is a shadow wolf, and a very special ninja. He is also used as a sex slave/whipping boy to fund the drug/other habits of the malevoent Rin.Yoshi is an amazing character, used to years of abuse, a powerful and hard enough ninja to withstand countless torments, a tormented character himself who doesn't realize his own worth.
I'm not going to give the plot away, but suffice it to say that Yoshi, even though he's been sorely used under Rin's rule, performs selfless acts and shows that loyalty, sacrifice and love can indeed save a group of people, and eventually, himself as well, He's a clever character, an endearing one, and Sessha Batto did a wonderful job of delving deep into the inner workings of Yoshi and all of the supporting cast. This is an amazing book you'll remember long after you've turnedthe last page.
Sessha Batto is an incredibly talented author, she has a wonderful play on words, and pulls you into the world she has created keeping you gripped until the last word. Shinobi is not the type of book I would normally choose to read but I was recommended to do so by a friend and I'm really glad she did. Shinobi is powerful, intense and engrossing, and now it's my turn to recommend that everyone read this book. Go buy it now, you won't regret it.
sex - great, torture - not so great -
Loved the sex, quailed at the torture. Very, very well written, but shiver-worthy. Strictly adult only, and I doubt if it would go down well at a ladies' Book Club. But then again, who knows?
Breath stealing Brilliant!
This book opens with intensity. Within two chapters you are eyeballs deep in visceral pain, shocked at the level of abuse and brutality displayed boldly on a crisp white page. Shinobi takes your comfort zone and smashes it. This is desperately required if you are going to get inside the head of Yoshi, the Shinobi who is the main character in this book.
Unlike other reviewers, I'm taking this review in an entirely different direction. I'm not going to tell you what it's about (that's what the blurb is for), instead I'm going to tell you why this book is so touching and brilliant.
Sessha Batto has shown you the inside of abuse, from the victim's perspective. Almost everyone who has ever been used for someone else's *avenue of release* will relate to Yoshi's behaviour. It doesn't matter if it's pain, or rape, or humiliation and the feeling of powerlessness, and somehow of taking responsibility for the abuse and thinking *it's your fault*. Through circumstances, and society, all victims are made to feel ashamed. If you are raped, for many years (and I still read it today) the outer view is that the person who was raped *brought it on themselves*. If it's a family incest or abuse matter - you are forced to keep the hideous secret out of loyalty and fear. Even if you are attacked - you feel ashamed because you couldn't defend yourself, you weren't strong enough - or you feel you should have protected your *loved ones* from attack. Shame is central to all forms of abuse.
I've seen men cry that they failed their families. I've known women who take their rape and turn it into an advantage. If men want sex - they turn the sex into their tool of power - it's a coping mechanism - a strategy only those who've walked in the same shoes will understand. Anyone who knows pain intimately (psychologically, emotionally and physically) will see the psychological angle skillfully used in Shinobi. Shessha Batto has done the best job at showing you exactly *how it is* in this work of fiction. People who are unscathed argue *why not leave* *Fight back* *do this* *do that*. They are unable to see that a victim is stuck in a mental cage of abuse. Often put there when they were too young to even logically or emotionally cope with it. Adults abused as children live with that abuse daily - because theyhaven't *developed* naturally with nurturing and safety. They will never understand the argument of *just change*. You can't change until you have a safe reason to change.
And that is where the beauty of this book lies. Sessha has taken the reader on a journey through Shinobi, from the horrific abuse of Yoshi, through his years of hating himself and feeling no better than a shameful whore unworthy of love, to finally daring to believe someone could love him without needing to get something out of the deal. Without needing to use his body, or to use it to express their anger and pain by inflicting it bodily on another. To someone like Yoshi, love is a foreign concept. A concept which is unfamiliar and therefore to be questioned with distrust. How can anyone love you - after all - they all want something from you - life has taught him that the hard way. It is very hard to love - when all you know is hurt. The cost of more hurt may be too much to bear.
And like others in this type of situation, Yoshi quickly adapts to the *conditioned psychological role* of someone who is only safe when they're being used - because then they understand the playing field. Too quick to say *I love you*, because it's a defense mechanism they hope will keep them safe from hurt / harm.
This novel is erotica - and the reader needs to know there is a LOT of sex between the pages. This novel is written as male erotica (M/M), but that in no way overrides the brilliance of what the author has achieved. I am so impressed with how well Sessha has managed to immerse the reader into an ancient Japanese environment, into the elite ninja fraternity, with their culture, food, hierarchy and mannerisms - while still managing to show the reader a beautifully touching story of how child abuse scars the adult for life. Love, knows no boundaries. Again I think this book points out that we turn to the familiar, if a man hurt you, it's a man you'll turn to (it's basic childhood psychological conditioning). There was no other way for Sessha to do this theme and message justice than to write it the way it was told. It is perfect as it is. I also think that women will relate to this so much better having the abuse happen between men. It separates anyone abused from the reality of their own lives - again revealing how delicately Sessha has approached this extremely taboo and sensitive topic.
The fact that the main character Yoshi finds safety and love in a man big enough, and strong enough, to really hurt him, gives every reader hope. It shows there is a side to all of us (no matter how large or rough we are) that seeks emotional nurturing and safety.
Shinobi is a fantastic story about what the elite ninja lived through, how their entire system operates, and pays homage to men who lived and died in service to their brethren, with undying loyalty to their family name, kin, and to the system into which they were birthed. Their honour mattered more to them than their own lives, and Sessha has really brought this clandestine sect into the open with a loving respect and great attention to detail. Shinobi is more than just a ninja story, it's more than just erotica, it is an incredible tribute to anyone who has ever been hurt by someone they trusted and loved. I mentioned earlier that people who are abused don't *just change* until they have a safe reason to change. And Sessha ends the book with that reason (beautiful, absolutely soul touchingly beautiful).
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for sheer brilliance and sensitivity to the real theme behind the plot.
In a word.."STUNNING"! -
This is a book for readers over the age of 18.
For those of us considered adults this book is a journey that will at times push your comfort zones, it is violent, gut wrenching and perhaps one of the most tender love stories I have read in recent years.
Homoerotica is not a genre I have read prior to Shinobi, and because of that I was unsure of exactly what to expect. What I found between the pages of Shinobi is the warmth, love, fear and utter loyalty expected and demanded in a modern day story of Ninja.
Torture and abuse are portrayed brilliantly by author Sessha Batto, you are witness to the scenes of what happens when political manipulation reaches the zenith of its struggle for power.
The characters become real. At times almost more real than you can take, you suffer with Yoshi..you feel his mental anguish, his determination to obey, his absolute immovable loyalty, and you share in his pain and the longings of his damaged soul.
Sasaki Makoto is the inflicter of much pain, yet he himself is a soul in search of the tenderness he has long been denied. Both these characterizations are beautifully drawn, the author gives you an insight into their psyche and their motivations that generates the way you the reader feel, despite the violence, despite the emotional turmoil they undergo the author draws you in: you can't help but care deeply for them both.
Their love ... and make no mistake for love is precisely what they feel; is erotic, sensual and tender, the sexual scenes are penned with a passionate and unapologetic hand as they should be.
Author Sessha Batto has not written this book merely to arouse the sexual desire of her readers, she has craftedcharacters rich in detail and painted for them a tapestry of colour and vibrance.
The darkest side of the human spirit is explored in this book. The violent underbelly of political intrigue is exposed. You will find the tenderness of the healing scenes between Yoshi and Sasaki moving.
For readers who are unafraid to explore erotica, and in particular Male on male erotica I urge you to read this book. It is an unforgettable journey.
Cali Girl Reviews
The first thing I am going to say is that this book was phenomenal!!!!
Now for the disclaimers: This book is not for the faint of heart, squeemish, prudish, conservative or under 18s. It contains graphic MoM sex, mutilation and torture.
Having said all that I will go further and say that all the scenes in the book were appropriate in order to tell the story and at no time did I ever feel that anything was over done, over played or over the top. Infact without these scenes I do not think I would have been able to fall in love with the characters as whole heartedly as I did.
The central character Yoshi is the infamous Shadow Wolf of the Takahashi clans and he has a secret. A secret he has been carrying for 26 years. Shinobi is the story of what happens when his secret is revealed to one of the most dangerous men in their organisation and the series of events that unfold as a result.
Shinobi is a saga that is completely character driven. It is clear from the start that Sessha Batto has lovingly written every beautiful descriptive detail. The book is gut wrenching, extremely visceral and it cuts to the bone. Once the healing begins however we discover beauty and passion. The love scenes are endearing and sweet with just enough of everything to make them perfect.
I was not sure what to expect when I read this book and even then it surprised me I honestly could not put it down and I loved every minute of the read. I cannot wait to read Book Two Struggle for Balance coming fall 2011
When I read the first Shinobi I fell in love with Yoshi's beautiful spirit and the exquisite agony and ecstacy of his story. I was not sure what more there was to be said in book 2, but once I picked up the tale I was once again caught up in Yoshi's world. Yoshi's selfless spirit and giving nature once again lead him through a destructive maze of insidious characters that would do him harm. His very nature though has won him some powerful allies that will stop at nothing to deliver him from the pain and suffering he finds himself in.
Sessha Batto's writing style conveys simple beauty and she easily conveys me to a very traditional Japan where the way of the ninja is still observed and quiet traditions are still prevalent.
Struggle for balance absolutely gripped me for the entire novel length! I picked it up and never put it down until it was done. I am so looking forward to more wonderful works by Sessha Batto!