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.
As 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.