The emotional action however is Tanith Lee being Tanith Lee. I bet she does this sort of thing in her sleep by now, which is the the downside of being prolific. It gave me the usual Lee oogey hangover, helped some by that insomnia-caused 2 am reading, and also by being read in tandem with Hard-boiled Wonderland. Now that one is genuinely weird.
(I still want to throttle Birnbaum for thinking that the past tense of lay is lay. It is not. 'I lay the book on the table and went to get a beer.' Argh. OTOH while giving both the Japanese name for a food and its English translation is a little clumsy, I'm glad he did it, because I'd have no idea what a 'tofu puff' was if he hadn't preceded it with karaage.)