CONTENT WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS SUICIDE, HORROR, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
So, one of my goals for 2018 was to read one indie/self published book a month. I actually went into the amazon store and grabbed a bunch of random ones from different genres, and refused to read more about the author or the book than the brief blurb provided, so I could form the most unbiased opinions I could. Now, unfortunately for me, I started reading this book literally hours before I heard about the Logan Paul fiasco, so…that is some awkward timing. I do not condone anything that man has said or done; as someone that has attempted suicide myself, and lost a dear friend to it, I’m more than appalled, to say the least.
Moving on from there, the first book I read (my second of the year, which you can see at goodreads here~) is Suicide Forest: World’s Scariest Places by Jeremy Bates. Aokigahara is the actual name of this forest, located at the foot of Mount Fuji, and is a disturbing and beautiful place. My friends that have been said that the trees make a vaccuum and no wind passes, and all you can hear is yourself breathing. Hauntingly beautiful is what one of them described it as. It instills a sense of calm and tranquility, and I can see why people would choose it as an isolated haven to spend their final moments. It breaks my heart that they do, however.
First off: I love to be scared, but I’m bad at it. My imagination likes to run off on it’s own, and I read most of this over the span of two nights in bed. Alone. Bad decision. The book starts off with a fairly diverse group of people, mostly ESL teachers that are traveling Japan, and want to explore the mountain before they return home. Sadly, the weather is too poor for them to do so, and they decide to wait it out until the next day, as it is a long weekend and they have the time. Some arguments about what to do over night occur when two newcomers stride past, intent on exploring the forest. The original group band with them and together they set off to explore the forest.
I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone that wants to read this, but it definitely surprised me and kept me on my toes. The last third of the book really took a turn I didn’t expect, and I’m glad it did. Going a more supernatural and over the top way would have been pretty expected. There was a lot of shocking things in here, so be warned; there are no punches held and you are going to feel uncomfortable. Even the end of the book doesn’t give you a way out of it. As Mel says in the book: it never ends.
Now, before I read this and reviewed it on goodreads, I didn’t know that Jeremy Bates had been traditionally published before, and that he was internationally recognised. Regardless, I will be airing my grievances with this book: I don’t believe it needed the epilogue. I would have rather the suspense, the cliffhanger, and I think the events of said epilogue were overkill and too dramatic following the climax. It just felt wrong, and off. Other than that, it was fantastically written, and obviously had me quite gripped!
If you have any suggestions for self published authors/debut novels, I’d love to read them! Please comment them, or tweet me.
Happy writing, and reading!