Women in Horror Reads Week 2: ‘Now You’re One of Us’ by Asa Nonami

From the Publisher:

In the tradition of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, here is a new classic about the bride who’s no longer sure what to think. All families have their own rituals, secrets, and credos, like a miniature religious cult; these quirks may elicit the mirth or mild alarm of guests, but the matter is rather more serious if you’re marrying into a household. If its’s a Japanese one with a history, the brace yourself: some surprising truths lurk around the corner.

Now You’re One of Us is centered around Noriko, who marries into the wealthy and prominent Shito family.  At first, she is intimidated by marrying in to such a large family, especially when they suggest that she moves in with all of them.  Overwhelmed and a little homesick, she begins to become suspicious when an explosion takes the life of a nearby family and her new family is acting a little but shady.  On top of that, the family seems to have a little side business growing in the back garden, and she begins to question what exactly is growing in the greenhouse.

Noriko begins to feel like she’s going crazy, wavering between explaining it all away and being gripped with paranoia as she begins to ask more questions.  When all is revealed, it will leave you wanting a shower.

What I loved about this book is the fact that when you look at the culture that the main character is in, it is easy to understand her desire to explain all of the things that she is experiencing away.  She is very much in love with her husband, and wants to please her new family.  Had this been me, in North American, I would have lasted a day then gotten an annulment and GTFOd on down the road.  But that is not the way it works in Japan.  She can’t just run away, and she is embarrassed to go back to her family.  At the same time, she doesn’t want to worry her family, so she doesn’t share much with them about what is going on.

It was very interesting to me, this internal struggle.  There are other factors at play here as the manipulative and creepy family draws her in, but she is very much of the mind that she should love her new family.  What the author is great at doing here is that Noriko has this inner dialogue about how she should love her new family, but it sounds hollow to both her and the reader.  You are invested enough in the character to know that she doesn’t believe her own bullshit.  She knows that something is wrong, and definitely not normal, but her fear of what her new family will do to her trumps all.  I really felt for this girl, who is completely trapped.  Near the halfway point, it seems thay her husband is hardly even part of the equation, except to scold her or tell her she is crazy.

Try this one if you like stories about other cultures, or gothic literature!

Next up: White is for Witching  by Helen Oyeyemi!

 

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