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The Crimson Labyrinth

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  637 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
From a rising new star of horror comes a killer read that will make you lose track of time and reality. The Crimson Labyrinth is a wicked satire on extremist reality TV in the tradition of The Running Man-if that indeed is what it is. Welcome to THE MARS LABYRINTH where things aren't what they seem. Welcome to the world of Kishi, where the plot is as gnarly as the humor is ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Vertical (first published April 9th 1999)
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Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Where do I even start with this? Wait. I know. Let's start with:

*It is a Young Adult book. And by that, I mean it reads as if it was written by a ten year old boy.
*It is set in Australia, and contains huge swathes of "facts" about Australia, presented in encyclopaedia form, many of which are incorrect.
*It is culturally offensive to the Indigenous people of Australia, and not always by accident. At one point the book references the "B
Sean O'Hara
Feb 29, 2012 Sean O'Hara rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, j-lit, pulp
You are in a maze of dark and twisting passages, all alike. You don't know how you got here.


You possess a box of granola bars, a bottle of water and a PSP.

>look at psp

The PSP is off.

>turn on psp

A scrolling text informs you that you've been drafted into a LARP based upon an old Steve Jackson Games book. Your goal is to survive.


There is a woman here.

>take woman

She won't fit in your bag.


The woman follows you. You find yourself in an area with seven other people plus

I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of The Hunger Games running all through it. I just can't get enough of these demented dystopias of staged survival competitions destined for public consumption played in extremis to satiate society's blood lust. In his review Gavin writes: "humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity" and isn't that the truth? My favorite of all th
Jun 16, 2013 Emperatriz rated it liked it
It's been a while since I've read some solid, survival horror fiction and this little bit satisfied my cravings, but only barely.

Although classified as a "horror" piece, it actually proved to not be as horrific as I would've hoped (considering that I'm a huge Stephen King/Junji Ito fan, my hopes for contemporary horror border the extremes). Rather, the grisly nods towards cannibalism and the rather Lord of the Flies-esque power struggle proved tired and tried rather than a refreshing remix on s
Maria Avelino
Apr 15, 2012 Maria Avelino rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-2012
The Crimson labyrinth by Yusuke Kishi

The Crimson Labyrinth is one of the best books i read for all time. The story is about the experiences of a man named Fujiki in a twisted dark game called The Mars Labyrinth. The Mars Labyrinth is a game where down-on-their-luck people from Japan are kidnapped and placed in a "crimson world" --a place somewhere in Australia. The players, not knowing where they are, are then informed that they are in a survival game and that there are only two ways out, to pla
Jun 16, 2010 Keri rated it it was amazing
This may very well be one of my favorite books. I don't know if I can even put this into words...

This is Survivor but serious. This is Survivor where you're voted off by dying. This is how Survivor should be ;)

The main character wakes up, finding himself somewhere unknown. A video game system (or something similar to it) rests at his side, informing him to meet up with a group of people. And this group of people is informed that there's a prize...for one of them.

This is an incredibly quick read
Jeremy Hurd-McKenney
I cannot believe the number of four and five star reviews this book has, unless they were reading a totally different novel. I want to blame the poor writing on the translation, but honestly, I think it would be bad in any language. Disjointed and forced, Kishi moves the narrative along by withholding necessary pieces of information, having characters make giant leaps of logic, and worst of all, cartoon interludes. Many of the shock elements designed to instill horror come across as just stupid ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 16, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
This book was better than I expected, somewhat boring here and there and kind of a copycat of Videodrome, but otherwise it wasn't bad and I liked the writing style.
Nuraina Abdul Razak
Nov 15, 2015 Nuraina Abdul Razak rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if that was the most brilliant book I've ever read or the most horrifying. Perhaps both.
Nov 03, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok
So bad, it’s good. The Crimson Labyrinth is badly written, clumsily-plotted, predictable, sluggishly-paced, and more comical than horrifying. But it’s also fast to read, and lots of trashy fun.

It’s about a group of Japanese adults who wake up in the Australian bush and are forced to play a deadly survival game until only one of them is left alive. However, the plot is extremely lop-sided. The first half has practically no tension or conflict in it. The main character just goes through the motion
Oct 22, 2016 c rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Cabbage
Sep 30, 2016 Melissa Cabbage rated it it was ok
I would give this book a 2.5 stars if I could, because some parts were really enjoyable to read (I'm actually referring to the gruesome parts lol). It was a little tough at the beginning because I thought the writing style was quite awkward to read - not too sure if it's due to the translation or the style's really as such - but as I delve deeper into the book, it didn't bother me too much. The plot is relatively predictable, although still exciting nonetheless, and sometimes the climaxes ended ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Amanda rated it did not like it

This was a truly creepy novel. I read about this novel in a magazine for the library when I was working there. The magazine was listing and providing reviews on these books for the library to purchase. This was one that one of the branches actually had so I checked it out. Yikes!

This book has I believe it was 6-8 characters who are kidnapped when they answer an ad in the paper. The character point of view witnessed in the narrative is going on a potential job interview. Let'
Asha Thomas
May 06, 2015 Asha Thomas rated it really liked it
Wowzer wowzer wowzer, The Mars Labyrinth, indeed. I have read a few messed up books in my day, but THE CRIMSON LABYRINTH might take the cake. A few of you may find it a bit gentle; to you I say find a therapist. For the others that feel the same as I do about this book all I can say is: humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity.

Before I start comparing this novel to some other fan-favs, allow me a few words about the plot. A group of nine people (all Japanese, underemploye
Nov 01, 2012 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror-thriller
Wowzer wowzer wowzer, The Mars Labyrinth, indeed. I have read a few messed up books in my day, but THE CRIMSON LABYRINTH might take the cake. A few of you may find it a bit gentle; to you I say find a therapist. For the others that feel the same as I do about this book all I can say is: humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity.

Before I start comparing this novel to some other fan-favs, allow me a few words about the plot. A group of nine people (all Japanese, underemploye
Jessica Strider
Oct 08, 2013 Jessica Strider rated it really liked it
Pros: creepy premise, interesting characters

Cons: introduced to too many characters at once making them hard to remember

When Yoshihiko Fujiki wakes up in a red stone canyon in the rain, he has no idea where he is or what's happened to him. All he has are a few basic supplies and a handheld game system welcoming him to the Mars Labyrinth. Before he has the chance to follow the directions to the first checkpoint he runs into another player, Ai Otomo. Her game system is broken, so they team up to f
El Fear
Jun 12, 2012 El Fear rated it really liked it
The Crimson Labyrinth is a very engaging story, but I enjoyed the journey just a bit more than I did the destination. I will say this for the story: I have an awful habit of starting a book in the middle of another book, and leaving that first book for a few days, weeks or months, til I get back to it. It's a vicious cycle; why are there no support groups for this?

I digress. I devoured the pages of this book. I read it at every chance I could get, just to find out what would happen next. There
May 04, 2015 Weiqing rated it really liked it
The Crimson Labyrinth was, simply put, an exciting book. It’s somewhat a cross between Battle Royale and Hunger Games, although i loathe to associate a good book with HG. I take it back, besides the broad premise, it is nothing like HG. Fujiki finds himself awake in a strange – almost alien – place, with only a GameBoy giving him vague hints of a game he seems to be in. Eventually he finds other participants, who like him seem unable to recall the immediate events preceding their awakening.

Oct 24, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: death-games, survival
Death games, what is it about these stories that gets me so excited? Is it the outlandish competitions, the characters pushed to their limits, or the sordid tales of survival against forced odds? Well, I guess all of these. And, this is one of the few books that delivers on every level.
Imagine waking up in a valley with that slight drugged 'I don't know how I got here' fear pitted deep within you. Stretching out before you is a labyrinth of naturally eroded chasms, you have very little supplies
Nov 14, 2011 solaret rated it it was amazing
I'm going to preface this review by saying that there have been three books in my life so far that have genuinely terrified me. This book, Next of Kin, and Stephen King's Misery. So no, I wouldn't recommend Crimson Labyrinth for the faint of heart.

There's a group of people who find themselves in a labyrinth-like canyon made from red sandstone or something similar, which is what gives the book its title. Soon, they discover that they've been placed in some sort of twisted "game." They're given ga
Graham Wilhauk
Aug 31, 2016 Graham Wilhauk rated it it was ok
This book is nothing. I literally have very few thoughts on this book. It does continue my endeavor into Japanese literature, but this seems more like a cash grab more than anything. Why? This feels WAY too similar to "Battle Royale" in terms of structure, writing, and form.

It tries to be subtle but just hit you constantly after the beginning with constant brutality. It also tries to focus on multiple characters in a survival setting that is set in an outlandish place. It also has a twist endin
Robert Beveridge
Oct 09, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Yusuke Kishi, The Crimson Labyrinth (Vertical, 1999)

What do you get when you cross “The Most Dangerous Game” and Battle Royale? You get The Crimson Labyrinth, Yusuke Kishi's first novel translated into English. While it's a bit over the top at times, it's well-written and readable.

The plot: a man with amnesia wakes up in a gully. Next to him is food, water, and a handheld game machine. Confused, he starts wandering until he meets up with another person, who is similarly suffering from amnesia an
Apr 29, 2012 Crystal rated it really liked it
I read some of the reviews of this book and was surprised at the vehemence of some people's reactions. I picked this book up at random at the bookstore and had no idea what it was going to be like. I had not read Battle Royal nor the Hunger Games, and had relatively little to compare it to. I generally like horror novels, and I like Japanese stories, although the translations can be awkward.

It is a light read, as other reviewers have said, and I read it in an afternoon. However, I don't think t
Apr 18, 2015 Anaid rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
Well no wonder why the main character got unemployed. Intelligence as well as common sense is something that lacks every one of the characters in this novel. The plot was really interesting, but the lack of a strong narrative makes it feel very slow. By the third chapter the things begin and by the seventh the game starts.

What I did like:

The feeling of a role game.
The survival tips
The idea of the labyrinth

What I didn't like:

The cartoon characters (really, they break the tone of survival the no
Anna Janelle
Dec 03, 2012 Anna Janelle rated it really liked it
I'm going to skimp on this review because it is Monday - and Monday mornings are notoriously craptacular. Perhaps I’ll come back later to add my thoughts; however, at the present time, this is the best I can do.


Take Battle Royale - and then The Hunger Games - and then just a bit of game theory and those delightful old Choose Your Own Adventure books. Set in Australia’s Bungle Bungle terrain, adults are released into the wilderness with no memory of how they got there. They are armed with portabl
Asta Olafs
Aug 02, 2014 Asta Olafs rated it liked it
I keep thinking of the Crimson Labyrinth. That is, I keep thinking of the book's setting, the labyrinth. I love the setting, the universe the author builds around it and just about everything that takes place within the labyrinth.
(view spoiler)
Mar 28, 2016 Nikmaack rated it really liked it
I picked up the book because I liked Goth so much, and Goodreads suggested this as a similar read.

The book is oddly written. The tone is both overly simple, reminiscent of a teen novel, with gruesome elements that make it slightly more adult. The plot is simple, bordering on simplistic. The grand climax is a bit of a let down. Twice, the translator's choice of words was jarring. Words were used that no English speaker would choose. There were also a few typos - AT instead of AND, for example.

Oct 08, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: action, suspense
I wanted to read this book because it was recommended for those who read Battle Royale and while it is a very good read, it pales in comparison. I'm not disappointed in having read it, I just wish I had read The Crimson Labyrinth before Battle Royale. I loved the constant suspense, dread, and intrigue of 'What's going to happen next?!,' that Battle Royale had in full supply. There's suspense to be had in CL but it's more limited since the book mainly follows the fate of just the two main charact ...more
Jul 26, 2013 Scott rated it liked it
A small group of Japanese men and women find themselves in an unfamiliar place, a strange and vast reddish land formation that resembles a natural labyrinth. They are each provided with a handheld messaging device and assigned to split up on different routes. Which is the correct one? Who brought them there and why? And can there be only one winner?

This is a page-turning novel of adventure with some good moments of horror and suspense. On the downside, I found the conclusion a bit unsatisfying a
Oct 17, 2013 Dani rated it really liked it
I would have liked it more if I didn't book cheat and spoil myself. :( But alas, really good!

Only flaws were:
- Sometimes too much description and unnecessary information
- Characters not fleshed out enough, main character lacked physical information
- Platy and Lucifer talk way too much sometimes
- Ending felt kind of empty; like there needed to be more conclusions

Otherwise, a solid story with very interesting psychological, thriller and survival elements. Definitely recommended! If you decide to
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He graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in Economics. After working for a life insurance company for several years, Kishi started his writing career as a freelancer. He has twice won the Japan Horror Novel Award, and boasts bestselling status in Japan with multiple works adapted to the screen. The Crimson Labyrinth marks his American debut.

Awards given to his works:
Japan Horror Novel Awar
More about Yusuke Kishi...

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