**3.5-stars rounded up**
A minister takes his wife and some local kids for a picnic in the mountains. Mayhem ensues. A newspaper man and woman share a romantic interlude at cabin in the woods. An evil is unleashed.
There’s something out there and anyone who goes near it is putting themselves, and anyone they come into contact with after, at risk.
Spiders, spiders everywhere, in the trees and in my hair…
It’s the 1940s and as WWII rages on, hostility towards individuals of Japanese descent in the United States is on the rise. Internment camps have been opened with some public support.
While her husband, a military pilot, is off fighting overseas, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, get sent from their home in Seattle to such a camp in rural Idaho. With no other family to help them, Meiko and Aiko are on their own.
They keep their heads down, hoping for a day when they can be reunited with Mr. Briggs and return home. They want their old life back.
We follow Meiko and Aiko during their time at camp. There’s an illness spreading there and Meiko suspects there is more to it than meets the eye. It starts out with cold-like symptoms, but quickly escalates making the infected anxious and violent; like things weren’t bad enough already.
We also follow the minister, Archie, as he deals with the aftermath of his ill-fated picnic on the mountain, as well as the newspaper reporter, Fran. Through these multiple perspectives the whole truth of the fervor is revealed.
Katsu’s signature style is on full display throughout this tale; melding historic events with Horror and supernatural elements.
While the human-side of this story is horrifying enough, the supernatural elements involve yokai, entities from Japanese folklore, specifically the Jorogumo, a spider demon. These aspects were absolutely fascinating.
The content of this novel provides a great opportunity for exploration of topics pertinent today, such as xenophobia and aggressive nationalism.
Also, the whole idea of the illness and it’s spread, the fear related to that; obviously, that’s quite topical as well and left me with plenty to think about. I think those aspects will make this a great pick for book clubs, or just to discuss with friends. It’s nuanced. We love that.
I would describe this as a slow burn, however there are plenty of creepy elements and intrigue sprinkled throughout. This kept me compelled enough to keep going. I needed to find out what was going to happen.
My slight critiques would be that I wished the Jorogumo would have played an even larger, or maybe more overt role, and the switching amongst the multple-POVs sometimes made it feel a bit disjointed. I did enjoy how it all came together eventually though.
This novel absolutely solidified my belief that man is the most dangerous monster of all. I picked up on that same message in Katsu’s earlier release, The Hunger, as well.
Seriously, the things people are willing to do to one another when they’re afraid…
Overall, this was a strong novel. It’s smart and explores a lot of really interesting and important topics. I continue to be impressed with Katsu’s imaginative take on Historical Horror. It’s so unique and refreshing. Well done!
Thank you so much to the publisher, P.G. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I have been highly anticipating this one and it did not disappoint.
The Fervor releases this Tuesday, April 26th!!!