Short Story Review: Himitsu-Bako by Timothy Bunting

Story Title: ‘Himitsu-Bako’ by Timothy Bunting
Collection/Anthology?: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 4 (Bristol Review of Books)
Briefly: Stephen meets Erika through an Internet dating agency. Their relationship seems to be going well, even if Erika has an odd way of testing Stephen’s intelligence and his general commitment towards her.
Afterthoughts: If you didn’t know (I didn’t), a ‘Himitsu Bako’ is a Japanese puzzle box. If you live in the UK and you’ve seen the advert for HSBC where a Japanese girl is given one of these boxes by her grandfather, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. A degree of cunning and intelligence is needed in order to open one of these boxes, and as I’m you’ve realised by now the Himitsu Bako features strongly in this story.

I like what Australian-born Bunting has done with this one. In typical short fiction fashion the story swoops in on a fleeting episode in two people’s lives, and it shows something of the quirky personality and the cultural heritage of at least one of these two people. I’d say that nothing really extraordinary happens in this tale, yet it remains readable and very enjoyable.

Rating: ★★★½☆

This story was read as part of a review of the Bristol Review of Books Anthology 4. If you want to find out more about this collection then I invite you to pop along to my forethoughts post for this title. I also encourage you to make a trip over to the publisher page for this title.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Hi Rob, Australian born, you say? Has he written anything else? And, is he an expat, or has he abandoned us altogther?

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Alas, according to his bio Lisa, his first novel is still in his head waiting to come out. It also says that he currently lives in London but is returning to Australia to complete an MA in Creative Writing. So, he’s going to be coming home 🙂