The Suffering by Rin Chupeco
Gory. Mystical. Chilling. These are three words that perfectly describe The Suffering by Rin Chupeco. This paranormal horror novel is the sequel to The Girl From the Well. It follows Tark, a teenage boy, and Okiku, a restless ghost. Okiku – a spirit not visible to most – has chosen Tark to help her avenge the deaths of children who have died innocently at the hands of those who the law can’t touch. While the novel previous to this one was about Okiku and her life before death, The Suffering is more focused on the human boy who is her companion. Though having an invisible ghost hovering around him all day isn’t exactly normal, Tark is also different in another way – he is an exorcist. Tark is fine with his abnormal life until one day he gets an email from Kagura, a former shrine-maiden who taught him exorcism. Her message says that an American film crew has come to Japan, where she lives. They would like her knowledge and help while they film an episode of their reality ghost TV-show in Aokighara – also known as Japan’s suicide forest – to try and find Aitiou, a secret village rumored to be inside. But shortly after Kagura and the crew begin their search, Tark gets the news that they have disappeared. The teenage protagonist knows he must try to find the secret village if he wants to rescue everyone and somehow make it out alive. There’s just one problem – no one who has ever gone looking for Aitiou has ever returned.
As an avid horror fan, I was extremely excited to read this book, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. The Suffering not only terrified me, it kept me on the edge of my seat as well. I really connected with the characters in this novel; even the most minor people weren’t ever just ‘there’. In my opinion, the worst thing a horror novel can be is predictable, but this book kept me guessing until the very end. At times navigating the twists and turns felt like stumbling through a dark maze: it would lead me somewhere, only to drastically change in seconds. To find a novel with this attribute was very refreshing.
I would recommend The Suffering to anyone who is remotely interested in the horror genre, as long as they are not squeamish! Another warning about this novel is that it deals with many sensitive topics that could trigger someone who is not looking for a mature read. I would definitely give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The storyline is compelling and the surprises don’t stop until the very last page! With a perfect blend of gore, Japanese folklore and three-dimensional characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.