The Fervor

Putnam. Apr. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593328330. $27. HORROR
Katsu (Red Widow) returns to historical horror, this time adding an extra dimension of terror—Japanese internment. Told through multiple storylines in 1944, with key journal passages from Japan in 1927, the story follows Meiko and her daughter Aiko in an Idaho camp; Archie, a pastor from Oregon; and Fran, a freelance reporter from Nebraska. The characters get entangled in balloons with Japanese markings that are landing across the American West and causing death and intense suffering. Katsu takes time to build depth and sympathy for the main players, bounces between perspectives, and ends chapters with cliff-hangers that beg readers to keep going, until the characters collide in the final third of the book. The unease is constant, as anti-Asian racism, a mysterious illness, government cover-ups, and Japanese demons permeate the pages, soaking readers in anxiety. While there is a definitive conclusion to Katsu’s story, the evil specter of racism isn’t going anywhere.
VERDICT Katsu has no peer when it comes to atmospheric, detail-rich historical horror, but this volume is more unsettling than anything she’s written yet, because its demons attack readers uncomfortably close to home. A must-read for all, not just genre fans. Those seeking more Asian-influenced horror might try the anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women.
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