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 into, 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 harbor 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 start 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.
Reviewed by Cherie PriestIt's been 30 years since The Graveyard Apartment was published in Japan, and now this new translation aims to bring the supernatural stylings of Mariko Koike to a 21st-century English-reading audience. This claustrophobic ghost story does lay down the creepy atmosphere and hit the form's best notes, but I suspect the reception will be mixed largely because the book could be at least a third shorter, and its protagonists are real jerks. Teppei and Misao Kano are seeking a fresh start in a largely vacant apartment building called the Central Plaza Mansion. Sure, it's surrounded on three sides by an old cemetery and it overlooks a temple with a crematory, but the price is right and the building is practically brand new. Immediately upon arrival, their pet bird dies, their small daughter complains of ghostly visits, and their dog behaves weirdly. One by one, the neighbors move out, and the scary incidents escalate. From a high-level genre standpoint, it's satisfyingly paint-by-numbers which I don't say as a criticism, or intend as a backhanded compliment. I'm a big fan of ghost stories, and I don't want every one of them to reinvent the wheel. I love a good wheel.However, there's a lot of filler, and the narrative is almost entirely tell, no show. Too often the action slows down for a lengthy aside on a topic such as civic planning or urban real estate, and the characters routinely indulge in hefty interior monologues that mostly underscore what terrible people they are.To be frank, despite their adorable daughter and dog, the newest residents of the Central Plaza Mansion are hard to root for. Their relationship began as a torrid affair that drove Teppei's first wife to suicide, and even when he found her body hanging in their apartment, he couldn't find it in his heart to say anything nice about her. Instead, he idly mused about how badly he'd treated her when she was alive and how much she'd deserved every minute of it. Misao isn't much better, though she does show a little embarrassment about the whole affair-and-suicide thing. Unfortunately, when she isn't going through the motions of respecting the dead wife's memory, she's busy being catty about people who are kind to her. By the end, I was hoping that the kid and dog would ride off safely into the sunset, and everybody else would go ahead and get eaten by monsters. That said, the supernatural mystery at the center is pretty interesting, and there are several solid scare-scenes that are beautifully done. The Graveyard Apartment requires some patience in places, and not everyone will hold out for the reward at the end. But for true genre enthusiasts, it's worth a look.Cherie Priest is the author of 19 books and novellas, including the gothic horror novel Maplecroft and the Clockwork Century series. Her novel The Family Plot will be out from Tor Books in September.
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Creepy as hell!
I loved it. If you are a Stephen King fan, or love horror, you need to read this book. One of the creepiest I've ever read.