[Review] The Graveyard Apartment - Marike Koike

Title of Book: The Graveyard Apartment
Author: Mariko Koike
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Year: 2016
Language: English
Translator: Deborah Boliver Boehm
Format: Ebook
Pages: 278

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.


The Kanos have just moved into a new apartment. Moving into new environment can be challenging, but they see it as a chance to start over. Everything was perfect for them except for the fact that the apartment building they’re moving into is surrounded by graveyards. They decided to dismiss it and see the positive side of it. At least their surrounding is calm and quiet, far from the big city noise. But then they start to notice other peculiarity on the building, such as how the basement doesn’t have stairs, the elevator stop working randomly, and there’s an icy cold wind inside the basement. Other residents move out one by one until they’re the only ones left. When they’re finally going to leave the apartment, they realize that it might be too late.
The Graveyard Apartment has the setup of a typical haunted house story, which is a family who wants to have a fresh start by moving into a new house/ building. There’s something dark in the history of the building but they will try to ignore it, until bizarre things happen. By the time they decide to move out or even do something about it, it will be too late. For some people this trope can be predictable and boring. As for me, sometimes I just like to have some fun by reading a Japanese horror story. So even though it is predictable, I’m fine with it.
One thing to notice about this book though, is that it’s originally written and published in the 80s. It is also set in the 80s and a lot of things weren’t commonly used back then, such as cell phones or the internet. This aspect of the book frustrated me. There are times when the problems that the characters faced in the book would be solved easier if only they have cell phones and internet. It makes realize how easier our life now. It kind of makes them appear more isolated in the apartment building without the author intending to.
I think this book has potential. It has the basic premise of haunted house trope, but the characters actually have more to offer. For example, the Kanos have a dark past haunting them. It was hinted a bit that this past might be part of the reasons of the haunting but it’s never followed up later in the story. Then there’s a history behind the construction of the apartment and the place surrounding it, but it’s never clear how this really connect to the haunting. The ending of this book is also weird. Is the haunting caused by angry spirits/ ghosts? Or by an evil being/ demon? It’s like toward the end, the author got confused and the story lost its way. There’s no motivation behind the haunting in the apartment. 
In the end, it’s an okay horror book. If only the book had different ending and part of it work out differently than how it’s written, it could be a good horror book. If you’re looking for some horror book to read for fun, this could be it. Although if you’re looking for something fresh and original in the horror genre, I don’t think it’s the one for you.

No comments :

Post a Comment