A book review from the horror genre.
Selection: Goth: A Novel of Horror
It’s not that he’s really interested in other people, or in conversations about class or hobbies or family, but he knows that keeping up appearances is important. He’s not like other people—no normal person has a passion for haunting crime scenes, or loves to stand where a body was recently found—but he’s good at pretending to be normal. Outgoing, even.
It’s more than he can say for Morino Yoru.
Yoru always wears black, even when she isn’t in her school uniform. She never smiles. Or speaks to the other students. But she does share his obsession with morbid crimes and murders, and the two of them forge something as close to a friendship as their antisocial leanings will allow, discovering the morbid secrets of teachers, police officers, café owners, and even neighborhood children.
As you can probably guess, I bought this book based solely on its title. In lots of cases, that would have turned out to be a poor choice, and this book did have a lot going against it.
First, it’s a translation from Japanese, and the majority of translations I’ve read (from any language) have contained incredibly inelegant passages in them that tend to ruin the entire book for me.
Second, it’s about anti-social teenagers and grotesque murders and crimes committed by average citizens. And these stories are summed up by the title Goth. Um…fail much? Luckily, Otsuichi was able to do two things in this book that redeemed the problems I had with it.
Yes, this book had some of those horrible writing segments that might’ve come off great in the original language, but in English, it just comes out as so much awfulness. On the flip side though, each chapter is a sort of mini mystery story that builds on the one before it, and there were two of them, Dog and Voice, that took turns I definitely wasn’t expecting. I think I would even go so far as to say they blew my mind once I figured out what was really going on. I will have to re-read them sometime and see if I can make more sense of them now that I know how they ended, but I suspect I will still be somewhat surprised.
And the whole bit about using Goth as the title…well, there’s a brief section where the narrator tries to explain to us what Goth means, and why he would consider Yoru a Goth…but it didn’t feel that connected to most of the story. I suspect that bit was put in there because of something that the author wrote in an afterward that was included in the book.
Apparently he tacked that title onto the story collection, and realised later on that it was a completely unfair title for such a gruesome collection of stories, since the majority of Goths aren’t murderers or crazy people, and in fact, all the crazy things that happen in the book are done by people who appear perfectly “normal”.
I accept his apology, and I do recommend his book if you’re ever in the mood for gore and mind-blowing mysteries.
You can safely assume at this point in the review that there are lots of disturbing images presented in the book. Mostly dismembered bodies, but also suicides, murdered pets, etc.
Pretty sure the language is tame, and that there’s not a lot else that could be too offensive in the story, but I admit I may have forgotten, since I was reading this book last October, during my whirlwind trip to WA.