“Mr. Sakaki passed away this spring. He died. So when I saw him this summer, it was his ghost.”
A dubious feeling took a hold of me, and I darted me eyes from side to side as I breathed in the chill, stagnant air in the display room there in the basement of the Twilight of Yomi.
Yukito Ayatsuji illustrates once again just how mind-blowing of a series Another truly is. This sequel to the original novel was beautifully written with unexpectedly engrossing results. I will confess, when I learned of a sequel I was equally excited and hesitant in wanting to read it. My experience with horror serials aren’t that great. I loved the first book so much, I didn’t want to tarnish my experience with it. Yet, I sucked it up and picked up Episode S and I’m so fricking proud that I did.
In this title, Mei Misaki recounts the experience she had encountering the ghost of a neighbour, when she visited her family’s summer home, to her classmate Sakakibara. I will say that the book does contain very serious spoilers for Another, so if you haven’t read that, I don’t recommend reading this.
I really missed the writing. Ayatsuji tells a story with such beautifully simple yet intelligent prose that I get swept away in the allure of the portraits he paints. The writing is very complimentary to the plot and mood, contributing to atmosphere with a subtle psychological impact that intensifies smoothly with each turn of the page. There’s a lingering sophistication that carries itself from beginning to end.
The plot, while paced, is far more complex than originally meets the eye. With the slow build-up, we get suspense that’s cunning as it creeps up all around you. You don’t realize how engrossed you’ve become with the protagonist’s plight until the climax slaps you in the face. The intrigue of the overall mystery keeps you guessing, compelling you further and deeper into the tale with childlike curiosity.
A different perspective is utilized in Another Episode S aside from Sakakibara and Mei. For familiars of the story, it can be slightly off-putting as you ponder the point of it all. But when all of the knots are undone, you realize how stupefying it all is. It’s meticulously thought out and executed with fantastically precise details.
The last thing I’d like to mention is that the sequel is decidedly less horror and more psychological thriller. There’s very little impending fear or dread. There’s no mayhem of bloodshed and slaughter. While there is plenty of anxiety, there’s no “slasher” vibe to it. Calling Episode S a thriller is a more apt description because the tension is far more focused on mental and emotional sensation rather than visceral, visionary sensation (if that makes any sort of sense). The shock isn’t frightful or abhorrent. It is mysterious, exciting, and enthralling. I found it to be a great balance. Being able to read a story with multiple layers gives it a great amount of dimension and precocity.
After all of that prattling, I think it’s safe to assume that I highly recommend Another Episode S, especially if you like a mind-fuck type of thriller. As I mentioned earlier, it shares some serious spoilers for book one of the series, so if you haven’t read that, I’d definitely check it out before picking this up!
4.5 ghosts out of 5!