Not the stories themselves, exactly. The stories are a fun read-- a fun couple of reads because they do all the standard Ima tricks and one never learns to see them coming. (That's 'cause one always has Insufficient Information to work with.) Vague conversations full of uninformative thises and thats and theys. Intertwining plots that start in three different places and converge. Dashiell Hammett-like lapses-- 'Oh, I never did say who murdered him, did I?' But they're all puzzle stories and thus fun to puzzle out. That's not the problem.
What drives me bats is trying to figure out how she constructed the plot in the first place. Possibly I'm doing it wrong: I assume she puts together a coherent time-linear plot and then rearranges it as a fractured narrative-- starts halfway through plot A, inserts flashback to plot B, continues with plot C that eventually gives you the background information of what happened in the (unseen) first part of A, etc. In fact she may not. She may actually see it in her head the way it appears in the book- begins in medias res and then oh yes! a flashback to this sidestory here about blah-blah, and ravens are cool, I'll put ravens in and explain later on why they're there.
I can only say, if you're a linear thinker, reassembling her multi-strand stories is tough, and trying to construct an Ima-ish multi-strand story yourself is nigh impossible. I know; I've tried.
Of the v.16 stories, I've read the River of Death one enough times that I can more or less reassemble it linearly, but of course it's a bitch the first time or so through. Remove a section of someone's memory so their assumptions are all 18 months out of date, then have them surrounded by people who don't in fact say OK what you remember happened the year before last and this is what's happened in the meantime. Unreliable narrators don't get any more unreliable than that. Really conveys the sense of dislocation an amnesiac must feel, though.
But Island at the Edge/ The Wing-grazed Island ie the first story still hurts my head. I tried to do a summary and got lost a third of the way in. (Granted, it *is* 64 pages long.) Even after figuring out *what* happened, I still don't know why. I have no idea why the woman's spirit came to Saburou's garden in the first place (which is at Kinu's house, after all, not a place the woman should know anything about), or why/ how the one-eyed woman's spirit came to Kai's office, ditto, nor what's with the little bag-- is that what caused the accident? then why?-- nor why comatose Kinu's spirit also went to the garden, having reverted to childhood, nor what it is Kai's suggesting Mrs. Komai do with her property (but that's a fault of my Japanese), nor how it is the son suddenly shows up with Kai and an inflatable dinghy to take the woman away. Because where are they then- at the Komai house or at Kinu's? or neither, but some sort of spirit form?
Ritsu also arrives with dragon Aoarashi to get Kinu's spirit from the garden. But when it all goes down Kai and Aoarashi are at home by the wreckage of the garden, and Ritsu and Kinu are at the hospital with rooster!Saburou. And I have no idea how anyone got anywhere in all this. Fine, Ritsu is able to go from his hospital bed into Saburou's world, but the thing is that he already knows about the garden world and has been there before. Kinu-- I don't know if she knows what the garden is-- a chronic mystery, the extent of Kinu's knowledge- but she's certainly never been there, and neither has the woman. So why are *they* there?