The acclaimed author of the celebrated literary horror novels The Hunger and The Deep turns her psychological and supernatural eye on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.
1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko's husband's enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.
Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.
Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it's too late. A sharp account of too-recent history, it's a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This chilling historical drama explores humanity’s darkest atrocities. Meiko and her young daughter, Aiko, are stuck in a Japanese internment camp in Idaho while her white husband fights in World War II. The two soon discover an unsettling correlation between increased government presence at the camps and an uptick in unusual—some might say demonic—behaviors amongst the prisoners. Rising horror star Alma Katsu brilliantly weaves real historical events with elements of Japanese folklore. Brimming with suspense, The Fervor makes you wonder what’s more frightening: demonic horror or humankind’s capacity for evil.
Katsu (The Hunger) weaves myriad perspectives into a powerful historical horror novel centered on the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. A Japanese meteorologist travels to a windswept island; a hesitant Oregonian minister worries he worships his wife more than God; a Japanese immigrant interred in Camp Minidoka fiercely defends her mixed-race daughter while not quite daring to hope for the return of her white husband from the Pacific Front; and a sharp Nebraska journalist is less interested in the married man she's seeing than in the fireball that explodes over their trysting site. At first, these characters seem linked only by their eerie encounters with tiny, translucent spiders, an apparition in a kimono, and the remnants of what appear to be paper parachutes. It takes some time for deeper connections to come into view—pace is not a selling point here—but throughout, the meticulous and compassionate portraiture, placed against the backdrop of what evils humans do to one another, creates a horror that renders even the creepiest spiders merely decorative in comparison. Horror readers looking for sharp social commentary should snap this up. Agents: Richard Pine and Eliza Rothstein, InkWell Management.
Fantastic WWII historical horror
THE FERVOR is the very first book I've read by Alma Katsu. I've seen so many highly rated reviews for her previous novels, THE DEEP and THE HUNGER, but this is the one that snared me with its synopsis and demanded that I read it. I am ever so glad!
Our timeline is 1944, the midst of WWII and the setting is mostly Idaho, where our main characters Meiko and her daughter Aiko are interned in a (prison) camp for the simple reason being they are Japanese. Yes, if you were like me and NOT taught in school that the great country of America, Land of the Free (if you're white) and Home of the Brave (because you're the one holding the gun) ripped all people of Japanese descent from their homes and put them in internment camps because they suspected them of being spies. Even American-born Japanese were seen as threats.
The historical aspect alone is horrifying. If you think that's what makes this a horror tale, boy are you in for a ride because Katsu spices it up by including Japanese folklore inspired by the jorogumo spider demon. I was constantly checking my clothing and surroundings, let's not even talk about the number of times I sword I felt something feather-light on my hands/arms.
Meiko and Aiko lives peacefully with their neighbors in a camp in Idaho for many months as the war wages on.
It starts as a simple cold. No concern needed, right? Except the cold morphs into fits of rage and aggression, leading to fights and in some cases, murder. The disease runs rampant throughout the camp bringing with it a team of "doctors" to investigate its origin....or maybe something else?
I read this book in two sittings. I was enthralled by the historical aspect, learning things I had never heard before because it's not taught in our schools. My white parents and grandparents certainly never shared it with me. How sad it is to learn about our country's past from a fictional book? I loved that Alma Katsu enlightened me while also weaving in Japanese folklore, which has always fascinated me. I immediately secured her other two books and will be reading those very soon! This is one of those times where I not only loved the book, I fell in love with the storytelling ability and writing style and have a new auto-buy author on my list!
The most important book I have read this year so far, The Fervor floods the mind with history and holds a mirror up to anti-Asian violence in the USA today. It is adeptly written and filled with cultural lore. Its one of favorite books now.