Stars: 2.5 out of 5
I have a hard time formulating my feelings towards this story. On one hand, it was a quick and easy read. The amount of research that went into the Japanese folklore and traditional housing was impressive, though I kept getting a lot of Fatal Frame vibes out of it. Which isn’t bad in itself, because that game scared the crap out of me.
On the other hand, the story itself is rather meh, at least to me.
It’s a typical haunted house story where a group of friends decide to spend the night in a reputedly haunted house and bad things happen. Well, in this case, two of the friends want to get married in that particular haunted house, like starting your married life by drawing attention of a ghost is such a good idea.
So the premise has been done before. In fact, that’s like the classic of all slasher/horror movies – a group of friends in a confined space, getting offed one by one in horrible ways… Thankfully, this is a ghost story, not a slasher story, so the bloodshed won’t be as pronounced.
My problem with this story is that I hated all of the characters. They were horrible people both to themselves and to each other. Honestly, I had no clue how they could even call each other friends. It seemed like they all hated each other guts. Nothing in their behavior spoke of friendship. Of old resentments that have been left to fester? Yes. Of past infidelities that nobody speaks about but are still there, like a big elephant in the room? Certainly. Real friendship? Not a trace.
So it doesn’t seem plausible, at least to me, that the protagonist would insist on staying in that house and would follow along with their crazy schemes. From the little background we get on her, I would have imagined that she would have high tailed out of there ASAP, just like their friend Lin suggests. That all “I’m staying because they are my friends” line isn’t plausible when you consider the relationship dynamics described in the book. That’s no friendship. That’s co-dependent abuse.
And because all of the protagonists were such horrible people, I couldn’t care less what happened to them, which also diminished the impact of the story for me. In fact, I’m rather disappointed that more of them didn’t die in that house. If none of them had walked out of there come morning, I would have cheered, actually.
I am beginning to think that this author just isn’t for me. She is great at creating interesting and frankly disturbing worlds and premises, but I simply can’t connect with her characters. I had that problem with the Rupert Wong series, and I have that problem with this novella as well.
PS: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.