I bought my copy of The Fervor by Alma Katsu.
A note on the images below: I could not source any images of the Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho, from my usual photo sites. Therefore the ones I uses are from Manzanar in California. Except for the spider photos – spiders are universally 8 legged and icky (in my opinion).
The spiders depicted are just spiders I found. Quickly because I HATE spiders.
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About The Fervor:
The acclaimed author of the celebrated literary horror novels The Hunger and The Deep turns her psychological and supernatural eye on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.
1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest.
It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.
Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death.
And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.
Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late.
A sharp account of too-recent history, it’s a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most.
About the Author:
Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of six novels, most recently Red Widow, The Deep, and The Hunger. (my review) She is a graduate of the master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.
Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies. She lives in West Virginia with her husband.
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“Superb . . . Horror fails without empathy, but it triumphs here . . . . This book is a triumph that thrills and entertains . . . and makes Katsu the queen of historical horror.” —Locus
“The Fervor blends the best elements of a superb, epidemic-themed horror. . . . Katsu expertly weaves the darkest, most disturbing horror motifs with the psychologically jarring elements of historical disasters and events. . . . It’s a thought-provoking book about the power of hate and the significant strength it takes to defy a system perpetuating that hate.” —Southern Review of Books
“Another clever work of horror/historical fiction that is extremely relevant to our current times . . . So well plotted . . . So brilliantly conceived . . . This book brings the heat on nearly every page.” —Book Reporter
“Gives readers a glimpse into one of the darkest moments of American history, and then gives the already terrifying ethos of that time a new and frightening shape….The Fervor delivers a punch that’s equal parts psychological horror and jump scare. It will make you want to read into the wee hours of the morning, even though you may question that decision when the shadows start to move.” –BookPage (starred review)
“Despite its supernatural elements, the true horror in The Fervor doesn’t come from jump scares like readers might expect. . . . The novel provides an incredibly important and eye-opening commentary on discrimination and racism.” —BookTrib
“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.” –Library Journal (starred review)
“The action leaps off the page and has a cinematic quality. The Fervor is a stunning triumph and unfurls like a masterfully woven tapestry. It is suffused with secrets, pain, Japanese myths long thought forgotten, and above all the guilt that permeates throughout. . . . The ghosts of this story will haunt readers long after they’re finished reading.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The plot moves at a dizzying pace . . . a balance of incisive detail and steady progression . . . What appears to be a story of supernatural suspense mixed with historical fiction transforms into an important reminder of the United States’ short memory of its own atrocities and its long history of anti-Asian sentiment, violence, and racism. . . . It’s enjoyable to experience the ambitious, weblike weaving of the book’s many elements.” —Kirkus Reviews
“No one does historical gothic horror better than Katsu, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in this very creepy tale.” –CrimeReads
“Another enthralling historical horror novel.”—Book Riot
“Katsu weaves myriad perspectives into a powerful historical horror novel centered on the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. . . . The meticulous and compassionate portraiture, placed against the backdrop of what evils humans do to one another, creates a horror that renders even the creepiest spiders merely decorative in comparison. Horror readers looking for sharp social commentary should snap this up.” —Publishers Weekly
“The Fervor is set in 1944, but it’s about the world we live in now—and that’s terrifying.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw
“The Fervor is heartbreaking, beautiful, and unputdownable. It turns the mirror of the past on the present, showing us what we could become if fear is allowed to defeat sense. It’s a masterful accomplishment which will stay with me for a long time.”—Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street
“Is there anything the brilliant Alma Katsu can’t write about? The Fervor is an utterly compelling combination of the historical novel, the medical thriller, and the supernatural scarefest. It’s also a hauntingly moving meditation on prejudice and suspicion that feels like it has as much to say about our present moment as it does about the past. This is sure to be considered one of the best, most original novels of the year.”—David Bell, author of Kill All Your Darlings
“Masterfully written. Rich in historical detail and packed with complicated, compelling characters, The Fervor is a frightening reminder that those of us in the present are always on the cusp of repeating the sins of the past.” —Riley Sager, author of Lock Every Door
“A haunting, harrowing slice of historical horror conjured by a masterful storyteller.” —Chuck Wendig, author of Wanderers
“I’m in awe of Alma Katsu’s uncanny ability to take historical fiction and infuse it with something so dark and otherworldly. I read this book in two sittings and during the night in between, I dreamt about it. A supernatural story with true heartache.” —Jamie Ford, author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“A chilling, inventive supernatural thriller about a mysterious outbreak in a Japanese American internment camp during the frenzied nationalist days of World War II. The story is propulsive and dense with spidery scares, but the greatest horror comes from the deep resonance between this shameful episode of our history and the news we read every day.” —Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay
I will just start this review with the note that I don’t read thrillers but from a very select few authors. Ms. Katsu is one of them. I have found that as I have gotten older they just impact my sleep patterns too greatly and I really need to know going in that it’s going to be a really good book for me to sacrifice my sleep.
I am pretty much assured of that from this author. And she did not disappoint with The Fervor. Although with the addition of !!GAH!! spiders!! she really did me in. If there is one thing that really gives me the heebie jeebies it’s spiders.
GAH! GAH! GAH!
But the book was worth it. It’s a brilliantly written tale of misdirected blame that is just so perfect for the times we find ourselves in right now. Makes me want to know if Ms. Katsu has a crystal ball on her writing desk and also makes me really wonder about her next book….
If you don’t know the story of the forced relocation of anyone of Japanese descent to internment camps during WWII I suggest you Google your way into the knowledge PDQ. I will admit to ignorance until I read a book several years ago. I was appalled. But then this country did similar things to Muslims after 9/11 and currently to people of Chinese descent with the coronavirus.
I guess we just do not learn.
Which is what makes this book so freakin’ timely. Because if you think the devils that rest on our shoulders cannot get the worst of us once more – think again.
But enough pontificating and back to this thriller of a thriller. It’s got a well constructed plot with characters that you definitely can get behind (except for those damn spiders – I would see them all D.E.A.D. personally) the main one being Meiko, who is married to an American airman, and her daughter, Aiko.
Despite being married to man serving in the war they are packed up and hauled off to a camp with all of the other Japanese and Japanese Americans because you know – they might be passing info to the Emperor.
But suddenly all is not well as the internees start to get sick but why? I’m not going to tell you. HA! You will have to pick up this riveting book for yourself and start turning the pages until you reach the end. I read it in one afternoon, pages flying.
It was not the calmest days reading I have ever spent (spiders! GAH!) but time flew as I was lost in the story. I barely knew the hours had passed until I turned the last page. I will keep it to perhaps read again or to pass on to a friend who asks for a good book. For it truly is.