Sarah's Reviews > The Graveyard Apartment

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2018, all-time-faves

I read this book in less than a week, which is really saying something for me. I could barely put it down. It's the translation of a classic Japanese horror novel, and I'm a huge fan of Japanese horror, so I suppose no one will be shocked I loved it. It's a haunted house story updated for the times--or, at least, for the 1980's--complete with spooked-out psychics, a creepy basement, flickering electricity, and an elevator with a mind of its own. It reminded me very much of Poltergeist, but with a Japanese setting and way more interesting characters.

As other reviews have pointed out, the stilted, formal dialogue is sometimes hard to ignore, especially when spoken by the Kanos' four or five year old daughter, but I mostly got used to it. The characters sounded, to me, the way many dubbed anime characters do, which I think is a product of translation. So if you're accustomed to anime, you probably won't mind it.

The other big complaints I've seen are that the protagonists are jerks, and the ending doesn't explain anything. I'm not sure why this is a complaint--we're reading horror here, so everybody has to be a self-absorbed jerk with skeletons in their closet, otherwise it wouldn't be vaguely satisfying to watch them be tortured. SPOILER TIME for 30-year-old book, but I think the connection between the entity in the basement and Teppei's dead first wife is subtle and a lot of reviewers are missing the hints sprinkled throughout. Ultimately the Kano family meets their doom (this is J-horror, did you expect them to live?) because of the ghost of the first wife, who haunts them mentally and emotionally so that they're deliberately, relentlessly positive and refuse to admit that anything terrible is happening even as their neighbors and even the building's caretakers nope right out. Sure, the phenomenon in the basement isn't fully explained, but again, this is J-horror, and if you're a fan, you know what to expect. The mysterious nature of the horror is part of the package you're buying, and personally, I love that. American audiences want to have every little mystery explained and every nook and cranny of the plot explored with a maglight, but that's simply not how Japanese horror works. For me, that's where the beauty and the true horror of the story rests. Isn't is scarier if we don't know all the answers? Isn't it so much worse if there's no hope of understanding or stopping the thing that's chasing us?
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Reading Progress

February 11, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 11, 2018 – Shelved
February 25, 2018 – Started Reading
February 25, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
February 25, 2018 –
page 46
February 26, 2018 –
page 110
33.85% "This book is so spooky! I can hardly put it down."
February 27, 2018 –
page 202
62.15% "This book is a real page-turner. I'm rocketing through it!"
February 28, 2018 – Finished Reading
December 30, 2021 – Shelved as: all-time-faves

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