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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Dark Water

by
Suzuki Koji


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Dark Water



Title: Dark Water
Author: Suzuki Koji
Genre: Stories
Written: 1996 (Eng. 2004)
Length: 279 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Dark Water - US
Dark Water - UK
Dark Water - Canada
  • Japanese title: Honogurai mizu no soko kara
  • Dark Water was made into a film in 2005, directed by Walter Salles and starring Jennifer Connelly. It was previously filmed as Honogurai mizu no soko kara in 2002, directed by Nakata Hideo.

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Our Assessment:

B : decent, occasionally chill-producing story collection

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       Water is the common element to all the stories in Dark Water. Framed by a Prologue and Epilogue -- themselves almost stories, and setting (and then closing) the scene -- the collection isn't one of real horror stories, but they are meant to be unsettling, spooky and haunting rather than outright scary. And a few do offer at least some chilling elements or turns.
       Fear is often a feeling, sensed rather than in reaction to something tangible, and Suzuki frequently exploits this as he tries to convey what his characters feel. Regrettably, he does occasionally stoop to the near-supernatural:

Yet, the second before the door had shut completely, she was quite certain that she sensed a presence steal swiftly into the elevator. Maybe it was just her imagination, but temperature in the confined space of the elevator seemed to have dropped suddenly. She was not alone in the elevator; there was someone else with her.
       The first story, 'Floating Water' relies strongly on the unreal -- but Suzuki at least milks it for all it's worth, the awful truth (even if never actually proved) quite convincing and chilling. Other forays into the supernatural, including 'Adrift', which finds a yacht floating inexplicably deserted at sea, are less convincing, though still occasionally effective.
       Fortunately, however, most of the stories are better grounded in the real. The second story, 'Solitary Isle', centres around: "a phantom by the name of Yukari Nakazawa" on an island where no one had set foot for a decade, but there's little supernatural to it -- making it at least more convincing. 'The Hold', meanwhile, sees an eel-fisherman meet the most deserving of fates, quite nicely choreographed.
       'Watercolors' offers a different sort of twist: a fairly clever idea around a theatrical performance, this probably needs more exposition to truly convince. The use of water -- a drip in the ceiling, onto the stage, a leak and flood in the stories above -- is effective, a nice contrast to the open-sea stories preceding it.
       Finally, the two-part (1975 and 1995) 'Forest under the Sea', goes underground, into wet caves, and is perhaps most effective in echoing what came before and then allowing for the collection to be tied up in the Epilogue, an elegant if not particularly scary penultimate section (which also perhaps tries a bit too hard to be meaningful).
       Suzuki has a nice touch in evoking chilling scenes, the unseen that the characters think (but aren't entirely sure ...) is there especially making for a sense of foreboding and menace. Some of the stories fall a bit flat -- 'Dream Cruise' can't resolve its terrifying situation cleanly, 'Solitary Isle' comes to an anti-climatic conclusion -- but there's enough that comes off well enough to satisfy.
       Throughout the collection water is cleverly put to use, and Suzuki manages to avoid making it seem too much of a contrivance. The open sea, dark cave-rivers, a water tower, or a simple bathroom leak: there's enough variety, used to different effect, to prevent the collection from becoming a mere set of variations on a theme.
       Suzuki offers some nice and chilling scenes and descriptions, making for good, creepy fun. There's nothing extraordinary here, but all the stories work at least on some level, making for decent entertainment.

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Links:

Dark Water: Reviews: Dark Water - the film (2005): Honogurai mizu no soko kara - the film (2002): Suzuki Koji: Other books by Suzuki Koji under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Suzuki Koji (鈴木光司) is apparently an authority on childrearing.

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© 2005-2008 the complete review

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