Author: Rin Chupeco
Synopsis: It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.
When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.
Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.
A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…
Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!
Rin Chupeco is one of the few authors that can write an accurate book about Japan. I found only a handful of flaws in her previous book and didn’t have any qualms with this one. She doesn’t stereotype, she doesn’t write assumptions, she doesn’t write from an outsiders perspective. She has facts but she also seems to have experience. And if she doesn’t, then she is very good at making it seem like she does. I enjoy her books set in Japan because they feel authentic, and if you know me, you know this is important to me.
I sadly am not the biggest fan of the writing in this book, or the other book in this series. It’s a bit sloppy and could use a good edit. Possibly the publishers fault? I’m not sure. But once I got past that I was able to enjoy the story. This one takes place 2 years after the first one and features all the same characters. Tark and Okiku are hunting down killers (Okiku is the one taking care of business) and Tark is exorcising ghosts. Tark and his cousin are planning a trip to Japan for their spring vacation.
Only things don’t go as planned due to two ghost hunters from a popular cable TV show, and Tark’s friend, one of the miko’s from the shine in the previous book, goes missing. Tark and Callie pitch in to help find them… in the suicide forest at the base of Mount Fuji.
I loved this setting. Sadly there was a bit less Japan in it than the previous book, but this was more about the horror story than Japan, so I let it slide. The actual story takes place in a village that’s hidden in the suicide forest. Tark and Okiku get sucked into it and learn about a horrible ritual that had taken place… a ritual that was left unfinished so the village was lost and haunted by the vengeful spirits of the girls who were sacrificed.
I really liked the details of the ritual and the way Tark had to go around the village and collect the dolls that he needed to use to exorcise the ghosts. I liked how he pieced together what happened there and eventually figured out how to save them all. And I liked his relationship with Okiku. It bordered on romantic at times and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that so I just kept picturing that they had a REALLY strong bond and that it didn’t go past that.
Overall this was a solid read, and I enjoyed visiting Japan again with Tark and his friends. I would have liked a little more though, because I felt like overall this book was a little too short, and that the time in the village went by a little too fast.