I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.
My first accepted ARC from Edelweiss! woohoo! I’m overjoyed and I’m just so ecstatic because this book was on the top of my TBR. Read the synopsis on Goodreads and I was immediately fascinated by it.
Description Summary | A unique contemporary read with an urban fantasy twist that I still felt disattached towards.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
In a hidden alleyway, somewhere in Tokyo is a cafe with an urban legend: A cafe that allows you to travel back in time.
Of course not everyone is certain of this myth, and those who are certain are often discouraged of going back in time after hearing the strict and unusual rules of the journey but the most critical rule of all is:
Drink the coffee before it gets cold.
As we follow the cafe staff and the cast of characters through their trials with time, we meet a lover who wants a second chance at goodbye, a wife wanting the last letter of her Alzhemier’s infected husband, a sister wishing for an impossible reunion, and finally a mother meeting her unborn child.
In this contemporary tale, you are left thinking: What is the use of traveling in time if it doesn’t change the present? And should change be in time and circumstance? Or should it be within ourselves?
I was really excited to read this, the cover and synopsis of the book promised a distinguishable read and I was definitely looking to diversify my shelf. Though the writing is distinctive and there are beautiful lessons mentioned by the author explicitly by the end of the book, I still thought it was an “okay” book because I wasn’t attached to the characters and their story hence I wasn’t attached to the book.
As a reader it is important to me that I have care or interest in the characters that I’m reading about. Especially when the story also revolves in one/minimal settings such as the case with this book.
The story had more potential but what I loved is the different tales that we got about in regards to different relationships. The concept of found family is showcased greatly via the staff of the cafe, and really brings everything together.
I kind of felt that a lot of the development happened in the latter part of the book and so it kind of feels like everything ended abruptly. This is a vast contrast with the slowness in the beginning of the book.
Overall I do wish the author had a more mesmerizing method to snatch my attention and keep me invested.
Setting/ World Building
The world building is focused and is explained thoroughly which I prefer when looking at original concepts of fantasy; the earlier the world building is set up the better and more clear for the reader to follow through. There weren’t unnecessary embellishments and the clarity and abrupt nature of the “rules” of the cafe matched the settings and tone of the book. If Sepia was a book this would be it.
I liked the aesthetics of the book and the various Japanese cultural aspects of it. It’s always fascinating to see how foreign cultures are integrated in a modern sense, and I enjoyed these immensely whilst reading the book.
Here’s my issue: My detachment and lack of care towards the characters in the book. Somehow what the book failed to do is to have me emotionally caring or interested in these characters which to me as mentioned is a huge thing when it comes to books. If I don’t care about the character I most likely forget about them, thus this book becomes unforgettable in the long run. No one really stood out for me.
Kawaguchi did a better job in painting out the look and feel of the cafe itself more so than the characters in the book.
Do I recommend? Not really to be frank.
About the Author
Toshikazu Kawaguchi was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971.
He formerly produced, directed and wrote for the theatrical group Sonic Snail. As a playwright, his works include COUPLE, Sunset Song, and Family Time.
The novel Before the Coffee Gets Cold is adapted from a 1110 Productions play by Kawaguchi, which won the 10th Suginami Drama Festival grand prize.
-Obtained from Pan Macmillan