REVIEW: The Graveyard Apartment

Originally reviewed for Unnerving Magazine

I received a free advanced copy of this novel in exchange for the review.


Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm and written in a style typical in Japanese ghost stories, The Graveyard Apartment follows a young family residing in a building surrounded on all sides by a massive graveyard and crematorium. Slowly, the Kanos come to realize that there is far more to the building that the creepy view, as they are harassed by things unseen over the course of several months.

28220806As I mentioned, Mariko Koike’s novel unfolds in a way that is very similar to popular Japanese stories like The Ring or the The Grudge, as in the pacing is slow and steady with scattered, intense moments that increase as the story draws closer to its conclusion. This pacing works for the story, but tends to get more or less sidetracked earlier on in the novel. Not everything seems entirely necessary and I found my mind wandering over sections often while reading.

When it comes to the scares themselves, Koike knows her stuff, and the entities lurking in the apartment building are truly terrifying in such a subtle way that it becomes more terrifying when you’ve put the book down to venture into your own dark basement. As the siege begins on the family, I was hit with a sense of claustrophobia that I normally don’t encounter while reading and quite enjoyed how well that sense was conveyed.

All in all, I would primarily recommend this novel to those who are familiar with and or enjoy Japanese ghost stories or even those who are fans of a more subtle form of horror.


Author: Mariko Koike (translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm)
Published: October 11th, 2016
Pages: 336
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN: 9781250060549

Synopsis: A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring 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 begin 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.

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