by Rin Chupeco
My rating for this book: 4 stars out of 5
To start, this is a horror story based around Japanese lore about a teenaged boy, Tarquin, whose perpetual companion is the ghost of a young girl named Okiku who was murdered 300 years ago. I haven’t yet encountered a horror story that truly frightened me to the core, and unfortunately, this one failed to dissuade me from reading it in the wee hours of morning too. On the other hand, it has some wonderfully quick moments of sharp humour that made me bark a laugh out loud to relieve some tension. The imagery in the writing is quite well done, and it really gives you a sense of being within the story, watching it as the plot unfolds. If you’re a little weaker in the knees, it will make you glance behind you every so often, just in case. The fact that it is based off of old Japanese legends is a refreshing change of pace in the fantastical genre, and absolutely makes me want more from this culture in fiction.
Okiku, Tark’s ghostly companion, has an intriguingly complex character and past, and, personally, I find her a companion that I wouldn’t mind having by my side. Despite being a ghost, murdered, and occasionally vengeful and grotesquely terrifying, she has room in her (no longer beating) heart for love and loyalty. Tark, the protagonist, is also a well-written and relatable teen character, if you don’t include the previous possession by a malignant spirit and ghostly companion. The relationship between the two of them is also well-explored and well-written.
Maybe in due time, I’ll pick this book up again, though I don’t tend to re-read often under general circumstances. The Suffering is definitely recommended, especially if one is looking for something different in folklore, away from faeries or vampires for a change.