PURCHASE:Amazon | Book Depository
Over the last year I've gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.
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…
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Last year, I read and adored The Girl from the Well but for some reason, it completely slipped by me that The Suffering wasn’t a new standalone, but rather the sequel to The Girl From The Well. Given that it had been some time since I had read the book, it also took me some time to catch on but when I finally realized that this was a sequel, my memory was awoken and I started remembering things from The Girl from the Well and became even more invested in this novel.
For starters, I just want to say that I LOVE how Chupeco weaves in aspects of Japanese culture in both the books. The books aren’t just about terrifying you and being creepy. Chupeco brings the books to life by weaving in so many details (including but not limited to food porn that will make your mouth water) that enhance the book and make me feel as though I am right there. It also made me feel more invested because I was learning things. I never felt as though Chupeco was drawing on stereotypes to draw us in but rather the richness of Japanese culture to entice us into wanting to know more.
That said, this book was flippin’ scary. I happened to be reading it at night and because my bed is by the window, my imagination went into overdrive and I became scared because I could just imagine some ghost randomly appearing and scaring the bejezus out of me and then I had to stop reading because I couldn’t stop being terrified. I think this should be a lesson to not read horror stories at night (although what fun is that?)
I was SO HAPPY to be reunited with these characters, though! I didn’t expect it and when it happened, I was ready to welcome them with open arms. My one issue was that I reallllly missed being inside Callie’s head. I’d say that The Girl from the Well was more of her book whereas The Suffering is definitely Tark’s. Tark has also grown up since The Girl from the Well and I loved what we saw him grow into. I especially loved his relationship with Okiku. Okiku has been essential to both books and here we really get to see how the two have fared since we last saw them.
Tark is an amazing character. Let’s just start off by saying that. He has suffered so much over the course of his life and he has finally found some peace in the form of Okiku. He has found companionship in a ghost who chose to protect him instead of doing whatever she could have wanted. Tark is also such a sweetheart and I adore him. He may not be a normal teenager but Chupeco never lets us forget that he is a teenager, normal or not. He is just as prone to making stupid decisions because of emotions and his need for adventure. What sets him aside though is his maturity because you can tell how the events of his life have shaped him. He makes choices he is aware of and he realizes that they aren’t the best and doesn’t ever see himself as any sort of hero.
We get to see Tark be courageous, brave and so so human over the course of the book as he and Okiku venture into Aokigahara, the suicide forest of Japan, in search of a ghost village and to save Kagura’s life. This ghostly adventure is just as creepy as it sounds and I LOVED IT. The backstory of the village and the forest seem well researched and set up. Chupeco knew exactly what she was doing . She knows how to draw in her readers and keep their attention.
One of my favorite things about this book is the relationship between Okiku and Tark. They have the kind of relationship that is hard to name because you don’t know if it’s romantic or not. It seems romantic and you kind of want it to be romantic but it doesn’t matter because what they have is special, no matter what label you give to it. They are there for each other and will fight to the death for one another because they care. They are supportive and amazing and GAH. I HAVE SO MANY FEELS FROM THIS RELATIONSHIP! They are just so shippable even if it’s hard to understand their relationship at times because it’s not normal.
Chupeco does such a great job with this novel and I just want to give kudos to her (read: tackle hug) because this book blew my mind away. Basically, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume I will read anything she puts out. So yes, GO READ THIS BOOK but also go read The Girl from the Well if you haven’t done so already because I cannot tell you how much you are missing out on.
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