Review of ‘The Graveyard Apartment’ by Mariko Koike

The Graveyard Apartment: A NovelThe Graveyard Apartment: A Novel by Mariko Koike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had mixed feelings when it came to deciding how I wanted to rate this one…

The Graveyard Apartment: A Novel caught my eye because I love J-Horror, and the idea of a book centered around the occupants of an almost empty building, across from a graveyard??? Count me in! So here I am, assuming that that means I’ll get a lot of supernatural moments. Moments that typically start off small in that ‘did I imagine it?’ sense, building up to a full-blown haunting that terrorizes and terrifies all in its path.

Did I get this type of story?

Let’s say ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
‘Yes’ in the sense that the hauntings accelerated, but in a strange rapid rate. And ‘no’ being because it didn’t seem to have that middle area that has you finally deciding that maybe, just maybe the apartment building is haunted.

So what exactly is this book about, other than the somewhat obvious title? Let me tell you a little about it.

Central Plaza Mansion is a relatively new apartment building catering to the more budget-minded Tokyo residents who may be looking for an affordable, yet surprisingly spacious floor plan that would be extremely hard to find in a city where real estate is not at all cheap. There is one catch, though, the fact that it is built across from a graveyard with a Buddhist temple as well as a crematorium.
The Kano family, consisting of husband and wife, Teppei and Misao, and their young daughter Tamao, move into the building after putting all their money into purchasing it.
Initially, the place seems perfect though there are surprisingly few occupants scattered throughout. But Misao slowly finds herself being unnerved by the odd things she hears from her daughter, and the strange things she’s slowly being to notice about her new home. After several large terrifying incidents, we come to the conclusion that the place is haunted, and once we figure that, it’s a full-blown supernatural riot, and the terrified family must decide whether to stay or go.

Personally, the idea of living across from a graveyard doesn’t really bother me all that much, so I would probably be one of the people wanting to take advantage of a more affordable, spacious apartment in Tokyo (if they are anything like the small Okinawan homes I’ve seen when visiting family in Japan, then I definitely understand the desire for more space). But obviously, this story isn’t so cut and dry, so the building is haunted and being that I’ve never experienced anything ghostly myself…maybe I’d want to take back the idea of living in such a place.
That being said, I tried to imagine being in this building when the different encounters occurred. I tried to imagine the terror. But honestly, the scenes felt so flat and contrived. The escalating occurrences were just not scary to me. I did try telling myself that this book was originally written in 1986, so maybe it would be a bit old-fashioned, but I should be able to get past that and recognize something as scary, but I couldn’t, and really, it shouldn’t matter how long ago a story came out, cause if it’s scary, it’s scary. And this one just wasn’t.

The characters were annoying (view spoiler), the supernatural moments were subpar, and when it ended, all I could think was, seriously?! There were several things that were mentioned earlier in the book, but then we never hear anything about them ever again. What about Pyoko? (I’ll hide the rest of my unanswered questions, since they may be a bit spoiler-y unless you’ve read the book) (view spoiler)

I wanted to love this book so much, but unfortunately, I just couldn’t. Too many negatives, and I can only really give props to the fact that the premise is very interesting, though in my opinion, poorly executed.

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both. 

View all my reviews

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