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The Fervor by Alma Katsu

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 320 pgs.
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The Fervor by Alma Katsu is the perfect balance of suspense, supernatural, and historical fiction. Meiko and Aiko Briggs are interned in Minidoka during WWII, while Meiko’s husband, Jamie, fights overseas as a pilot. The story shifts from 1944 to 1927 where we learn a little bit about Meiko’s family history and her father’s atmospheric research. What her father uncovered while working on a remote Japanese island Shikotan will come into play later.

Readers also will meet Archie and Elsie, the preacher and his wife, who were family friends of the Briggs. Something comes between the foursome when the war breaks out. When white motes appear and explosions happen in remote places across the United States, a fervor starts to take hold.

“She looked at the smoldering heap, which still billowed and heaved in the night air, like a breathing creature, tentacled and ashen.” (pg. 35-6)

Working in the background is an intrepid reporter who uncovers a secret balloon in the woods with strange writing. She starts to piece together the fervor taking hold in small, remote towns across America. No one is immune, not even the preacher. Katsu’s interned characters are strong, but they shouldn’t have to be. They are Americans and love their country, and Mr. Briggs is sacrificing himself for freedom.

The Fervor by Alma Katsu is a work of fiction, but she captures the atmosphere of WWII in America and the fervor that caught up so many and led to the interment (read imprisonment) of American citizens. I’ve read a number of books about this period and these camps, but there should be more about this time period taught to students across the country. We need more brave souls to examine our not-so-great history, so that a new/old fervor doesn’t take over and lead to more dark U.S. history.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several US agencies and is currently a senior analyst for a think tank. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband.

Mailbox Monday #681

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

The Fervor by Alma Katsu, which I pre-ordered because it combines my favorite things to read about.

1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late. A sharp account of too-recent history, it’s a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most.

What did you receive?