GOTH by Otsuichi is an interesting book about a strange pair of friends attending a Japanese high school. Morino is a beautiful girl who wears black and never smiles or mingles with society. Her friend, the narrator of the book (who goes unnamed), mingles easily with people and seems to be perfectly normal.
They’re both faking.
And they’re both obsessed with serial killers.
Luckily for them, their town seems to be a magnet for them. They stumble on one strange case after another, but they’re not interested in solving murders or stopping them. They just want to understand the killers.
The writing is very good. Tight and straightforward, propelling the story at a fast pace. The characters themselves are interesting if a bit flat and sometimes too cool; we spend a lot of time with the narrator, though Morino is the more interesting character. I wish she had more screen time. The serial killers are just as interesting if not more, their crimes and methods obscene.
The narrative sometimes jumps around between different people speaking in first person, and overall it’s episodic. That’s because GOTH, while presented as a novel, isn’t. It’s a collection of short stories centered on the same two main characters. You’ll enjoy it a lot more knowing that going into it. It explains why the duo keep bumping into one serial killer after another and solving the crimes so handily. The author also explains this in the afterword (which should have been the foreword) by stating the serial killers are Japanese mythical evil spirits but don’t know it, drawn to this particular place and, for some reason, to Morino. The narrator himself may be one as well.
Overall, GOTH isn’t your normal horror fare. It’s a good horror read, about two fans of freaks who keep engaging with them, learning about them.