I felt that this story started out a bit slowly for me. Although some explanation was necessary to establish the backstory of the characters, I probably would have liked to have a little less explanation at the beginning and more of a jump straight to discovering the journal. Having said that, the story does pick up quickly after that, and I especially liked the incorporation of poetry and journal passages into the text – it provided a nice contrast with the straightforward narration. The voice was very accessible to read and I think it would appeal strongly to a YA audience. It never gets too graphic, as a lot of modern horror tends to do, and it reminded me of classic teen horror stories I read when I was younger, à la R.L. Stein and Christopher Pike – hinting at danger, but never stepping too far over the edge and out of my comfort zone. I also enjoyed the exploration of cultural differences within a Japanese setting and incorporating Japanese beliefs/superstitions. The passages from the journal are particularly poetic and poignant, as they recall an earlier time in history, for example:
Mother still wore the Mofuku, the black of her hair was lost in the fabric when she bent to pour tea, but I
remember one day, right after Father died, she smiled. I had woven a scarf. She smiled and stroked my head.
Was it the last time she truly smiled? I don't know."
So for those readers who enjoy horror that is not all blood and guts, but incorporates more of the traditional elements of true suspense, this would be a good novella to pick up. I've read other work by Ashley Capes before, and I'd read more by him in the future.