If you’ve got a penchant for horror, we’ve got more books for you. Read our top picks of Asian horror books for our book club this month!
This year, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a little overlooked (no) thanks to the pandemic. Unfortunately, that means no getai performances to ogle at, but you can definitely still see (and smell) offerings being burned in red containers. And if you hold true to superstitions that surround this festival, then you’ll want to snuggle up at home with a cup of tea and a horror read. And you know us, we love to read (have you joined our HoneyKids Book Club?). Well, dig in and pick up a copy of one of these novels from Asian authors!
The HoneyKids Book Club: Asian horror books
1. The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike
Moving to a new apartment is fun, especially when the little ones have a bigger room and you have more wardrobe space for your favourite outfits. The only con? When it’s situated next to a graveyard. In this book, a young family starts to realise their neighbours moving out one-by-one, and are eventually left alone with someone – or something – lurking in the basement. This Japanese horror novel was first published in 1986 but has been translated, republished and loved by many, including us!
2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
We all have our reasons for going meat-free. It’s more affordable, it’s good for our bodies and it’s great for the environment, too. But unlike us, this book’s protagonist’s journey as a vegetarian takes a turn when her unusual choice of diet spirals out of control and into madness. It’s a trippy horror of sorts, and it definitely makes for an interesting read. Psst, be sure to check out the other two books in the series as well, which dives into a deeper and darker abyss as the story plays out.
3. Shiver by Junji Ito
Written by the author of many popular and well-received Japanese manga (or graphic novels, if you’d like to call them), Shiver by Junji Ito should be on your to-read list. The manga contains 10 of Junji Ito’s best short stories which will delight any horror fans, and it’s pure nightmare fuel, too. Fun fact: these illustrations are drawn by Ito himself and are a treat for any horror fans. You should be warned, there are some really gory pictures.
4. Valley of Terror by Zhou HaoHui
Though the plot of this Asian horror book sounds like a thriller, we assure you, it is nothing like it seems. After all, what could go wrong when you’re investigating the deaths of victims of a mysterious “fear disease”? Well, as it turns out, you could get stalked by something – or someone – as you try to uncover the truth. A great horror read (of sorts), blended together with mystery, thrills and crime.
5. Ring by Koji Suzuki
Horror fans would’ve already watched the numerous adaptations of Ring, so this isn’t a new novel per se. But it’s always great to read the book, because more often than not, the novels are better than the films (there, we said it). Koji Suzuki has been hailed the Stephen King of Japan, so if you’ve enjoyed the American author’s novels, we reckon you’ll love this one, too. And, you should definitely check out Suzuki’s collection of short stories, Dark Water – let’s just say, we’re going to stay off boats for a while.
6. The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun
If you want a good psychological Asian horror book with an unnerving sense of dread, pick up a copy of The Hole by award-winning author, Hye-Young Pyun. The novel plays up to our everyday fears like loneliness, grief and depression, so it’s easy to dive into the book. Psst, if you like horror’s literary great, Shirley Jackson, you’ll love this novel (it won the Shirley Jackson award in 2017).
7. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
The Netflix adaptation is based on this Asian horror book, which was also picked for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. (This means it’s a must-read!) Set in our neighbouring country Malaysia, the novel centres on a girl who’s betrothed to a family’s dead son, thus the ‘ghost bride’ label. It’s been said a traditional ghost marriage will placate a restless spirit, but at what price? If you’re looking for Chinese folklore, romance, and the supernatural, then this book comes highly recommended.
8. The Loving and the Dead: Tales of the Supernatural by Catherine Lim
Singaporeans enjoy sharing ghost stories, and this local horror anthology by SingLit great Catherine Lim perfectly encapsulates that. The collection of 18 stories details the terror that the writer had experienced when listening to such anecdotes as a child. She also poses an interesting observation: despite our extensive scientific knowledge today, what do we really know of the supernatural? As one character succinctly puts in: “I don’t know, I don’t know. I wish I did.”
9. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
Are you a fan of Edgar Allan Poe? Then pick up this Asian horror book, which has been widely regarded as a masterpiece. Iranian Sadegh Hedayat’s opus may read like a tale of doomed love, but as you flip through the pages, it’s so much more than a love story… Macabre, haunting, and unreliable thanks to the narrator, you’ll be in for a dizzyingly disturbing read as you attempt to figure out if the events truly transpired or not.
10. The Face at the Window by Kiran Manral
Mrs McNally is a retired schoolteacher living alone at the foothills of the Himalayas. She’s guarding secrets that, if revealed, could shatter the lives of her daughter and granddaughter. On top of grappling with her past, Mrs McNally also has to deal with a strange, vicious presence in her house that seemingly wants something from her. This novel holds a mirror to the fears that we all have: ageing, not belonging, and not having anyone love you at the end of your life.
Want more scary reads? Check out these spooky reads that we’re dusting off for Halloween!
Top image: Daniel Jensen via Unsplash