Be afraid . . .
It’s nearly Halloween so now seems a good time to review an absolutely cracking ghost story, Strangers (1987), by Japanese writer, Taichi Tamada. It is a novella and can easily be read in a couple of hours. The narrator, a middle-aged scriptwriter, divorced, disillusioned, takes a sentimental journey to the Toyko suburb where he grew up and where his parents both died when he was twelve. He meets a man and a woman who closely resemble his dead parents at the age when they died. He returns again and again for the comfort of being with them, but things are not what they seem – in more ways than one . . . The end is, frankly, terrifying. The novel is a little like The Turn of the Screw in its use of a possibly unreliable narrator and rivals it in scariness, but it’s also a touching exploration of love and loss and grief. I first read it years ago and it’s a story that has stayed with me.
I’ve been visiting the dark side myself recently and my short story, ‘Teeth and Hair,’ appears in The New Abject: Tales of Modern Unease, published yesterday by Comma Press. I managed to scare myself writing this! I hope it’ll do the same for readers.