Book review: Shiver

Shiver by Junji Ito.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

If you’ve read any Junji Ito before, you’ll be pretty aware of the sort of things you’re going to get in Shiver, a collection of his best work, gathered together and presented with brief commentary from the creepmaster himself.

Hey, they’re playing my song!

If you’ve not read any Ito before, you might well want a stiff drink or a change of undies. ‘Cause shit’s going to get weird.

We’ve all been there.

This collection – unlike Ito’s take on Frankenstein, which is an adaptation, or his deluxe Tomie volume, which gathers a bunch of tales featuring the same character – acts as a sort of tasting plate of the manga artist’s strangest fixations. It’s a great way to get an overview of Ito’s strangeness.

Fuckin’ arts students, amirite?

And you know, Tomie even makes an appearance.

All that and modest, too.

The tenor of the stories veers between body-horror and the sort of creeping strangeness you’d find in a Poe tale. There’s either bodies with holes and fucked-up metamorphoses, or else there’s records with an irresistible pull. There’s fantastic horrors of floating heads, and models with a strange demeanour. There is, in general, a sense that things just aren’t right in a way that’s impossible to come back from.

And then, of course, there’s this.

Artistically, this is what you’d expect: clear, solid work with an unflinching eye cast on the proceedings, even when they involve horrors of the flesh. There’s a timelessness to some of the work: it often appears that things take place in a continual indeterminate setting, adrift from the wider world. The very plainness of depiction often fuels the horrors within, and it’s brilliant.

Of COURSE it fucking is.

With Shiver, Ito presents – and, to a limited extent, explains – his work. It’s a gathering of tales which range from urban legend creepiness to unmitigated nightmare fuel, and it’s addictive. There’s not a lot more to say, because to give away more story detail would ruin the journey for the virgin reader – but do check it out, glass of oil in hand.

Drink up, king.

My Goodreads profile is here.


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