Goth: A Novel of Horror, by Otsuichi (Hirotaka Adachi) is an All Hallows Read for goths. Or not. You see, it talks about death, murder, decay and longing… from the perspective of two teens with very dark hearts, but it’s not really about the subculture at all. A good thing too, since according to the Encyclopedia Gothica, a sure sign of being goth is that you claim to be not goth at all. Ergo; Goth is so totally not goth.
I’d buy this book for any of my horror loving friends who also love rainy overcast days and deserted cafes. Have you ever followed the news of a serial murder in the paper? Perhaps in high school you spent more time studying Jack the Ripper and Zodiac than you did, say, Harper Lee. If so, this one is for you.
Those who are not horror fans but enjoy literary slice-of-life works that delve into the psychology of awkward or dysfunctional relationships will enjoy Goth as well. It is about a serial murderer, after all.
Well, it is really more about the two high school students following the murders. One fits the modus operandi far too well, as a girl. Fits like a future victim. The other fits all too well into the lives of each – the girl and the murderer – due to his narrative.
For those who enjoy quiet horror told from a very calm and realistic point of view, any Otsuichi would fit, but Goth was my gateway drug. Told as a kind of serial anthology, each chapter is a story in and of itself. A novel digestible as brown leaves to a worm, you may find it sticking with you after. I did. And that, to me, is what good horror is all about. It crawls under your skin and whispers to you for days or weeks after. Not that it makes the shadows any darker, but this book sheds pale moonlight. Recall that scene in Fight Club where Tyler takes the ID of a young man and threatens his life, then has him run away? “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted”? Well, that is how you will feel after reading Goth. You step into the shoes of Raymond K. Hessel without even knowing it. That is something few horror novels can make you feel – to feel like you survived, like you made it out alive. If it takes a lot to scare you, if the hatchet barely makes a dent and no amount of blood could drown you, try this one for Halloween.