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Friday, March 3, 2017

#Book #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike @StMartinsPress

TITLE: The Graveyard Apartment
AUTHOR: Mariko Koike 
TRANSLATOR: Deborah Boliver Boehm
PUBLISHER: Thomas Dunne Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 11, 2016 (first published 1988)
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 325 pages
GENRE: Horror
ISBN: 9781250060549

A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone... or something... lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.

I was excited when I saw this book at the library because I have a thing for stories about haunted houses. When I think of Japanese horror, I think of terrifying movies like The Ring or The Grudge. My expectations were really high going in, especially after I saw the story being described in the synopsis as a “terrifying” tale. Unfortunately, the book missed the mark on the creep factor that I was hoping for but I still ended up liking it!

The story takes place in 1987 and revolves around the Kano family. Teppei Kano works at an advertising agency and, with the advertising business in a slump, money is tight. He spots an advertisement for luxury apartments for sale in Tokyo. The location is good, the apartment is spacious, and the cost is approximately half of what he would expect to pay to find a similar one elsewhere. The only downside is that the building is located next to a cemetery, which is why Teppei thinks that the price is reduced. He decides that the deal is too good to pass up, so his family moves to Central Plaza Mansion. Their pet bird, Pyoko, is found dead in its cage the morning after their first night in the house, and its white feathers fill the bottom of the cage as if the poor bird was attacked! Teppei’s daughter, Tamao, claims that the bird visits her at night and that he told her that he lives in a dark and dangerous place that is full of monsters and that once someone goes there they can’t get out again (although it’s not clear how the bird managed to get out!). Teppei and his wife, Misao, just think their young daughter is making up stories to cope with the death of her bird and don’t take her too seriously. Then other strange things start to happen, such as a strange shadow on the television and the phone ringing but the line goes dead when it is picked up. The basement of the building has a strange feel to it and is drafty and, oddly, the stairs in the building only go down to the main level and not to the basement. The only way to get into and out of the basement is by the elevator. It appears that other residents in the building are also experiencing similar strange occurrences, and people are starting to move out. At the time the Kano family moved in, only half of the apartments were occupied. Three months later, four of the seven residents are vacating the premises. One of the residents suggests to Teppei that his family should move out because the building has bad vibes.

Although the story moved at a slow pace, the writing kept me engaged. If I had to do a comparison, I would say that the writing style is similar to Shirley Jackson. I liked the book, but it wasn’t the chiller-thriller that I was hoping for. I do love the creepy cover, but I was disappointed that the depiction of the building did not match the author’s description (the building’s façade is supposed to have “an interesting irregularity when viewed from the outside” because the placement of the balconies differed between apartments).


3 stars!! It was good, and I liked it.

This book qualifies as:


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