on April 10, 2013 :
Honor and duty rule a contemporary shadow world where legend clashes with the stark realities of bodies and souls bartered in the name of clan hegemony. In modern day Japan only the ninjas move within the secret circles of power and influence, fulfilling roles not even the Yakusa will touch.
Against this backdrop of manipulation, betrayal and conspiracy, Takahasi Yoshi willingly fulfills a horrendous mandate to submit to a perverted despot in service to a clan debt. Groomed to accept abuse as his duty and obligation, the infamous shadow wolf slowly succumbs to the brutality that marks his existence, stripping his soul of faith and trust.
Sasaki Makoto is the clan's torture master, wickedly self-contained and viciously successful at his job. He is a man least likely to extend a hand of friendship, let alone open his heart to the battered psyche of the broken man that Yoshi becomes. The question becomes: can a man of darkness penetrate the barrier of a lost soul and lead them both down the path of redemption and acceptance of who and what they are.
Shadow Wolf is a saga of faith betrayed, of love denied, all replaced with such shame and torment that self-loathing becomes the raison d’être of a man's existence. It is raw. It is cruel. It speaks of unspeakable acts, never holding back, never allowing the reader to ever once turn away because the only way to truly 'know' the man is to meet him at his breaking point.
It is heart-wrenching and outside of everything we know to be right and true. Yoshi stands for us at that point where the basest nature of man is legitimized and sanctified through the clan's indoctrination and culture of absolute loyalty and submission to authority.
Make no mistake, this epic tale of homoeroticism, politics and selfless duty will not be for everyone. It is sensual, it is brutal, it is honest. There's nothing prurient here. This is the good, the bad and the ugly set against a backdrop few of us have ever seen, in a legendary culture most of us can scarcely imagine.
Sessha Batto blends legend and mythology, sensuality and eroticism, in a startling and mesmerizing way. We sympathize, or hate, or grieve with the many characters who tread through the 'gates' along Yoshi's journey, hopeful for resolution but knowing that nothing is writ in stone and a man's freedom oft times comes at too high a price.
Abuse is ugly, what it does to the body and the mind is nothing compared to what it does to the soul. The author explores this with gut-wrenching honesty, pushing our comfort zones and redefining what it means to love and be loved when the line between pleasure and pain ceases to exist.
As I said, this is male-male erotica, it is intense, it is sensual. And it is brilliant.
(reviewed the day of purchase)