The Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

World's Scariest Places, #1


Just outside of Tokyo lies Aokigahara, a vast forest and one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Japan...and also the most infamous spot to commit suicide in the world. Legend has it that the spirits of those many suicides are still roaming, haunting deep in the ancient woods.

When bad weather prevents a group of friends from climbing neighboring Mt. Fuji, they decide to spend the night camping in Aokigahara. But they get more than they bargained for when one of them is found hanged in the morning--and they realize there might be some truth to the legends after all.

“So how about it? We wanted to kill some time? Camping in a haunted forest sounds sick.”

Reading a creepy story set in a real-life setting with its own tragic history already gives brownie points to a book before it's opened. The question is, did the author add enough to the story to give the setting justice? Yes….and no.

If curious, check out the history of the Suicide Forest set in Japan, called Aokigahara Jukai. The forest has a historical reputation as a home of the dead, and has unfortunately become a popular spot for suicide.

The author mainly writes cheesy stories with these serious, real-life locations. Here we have a group of travelers who are somewhat lazy and not always fully sensible. When they decide they don’t feel like climbing Mt. Fuji, they get the brilliant idea of sleeping overnight in “The Suicide Forest.” Now, you may be asking yourself how silly this group is, but I too remember being young with friends and driving by places supposedly haunted trying to creep each other out, so this isn’t as unlikely as it sounds.

The book is mainly told through the POV of Ethan, and he’s a worthy enough lead. You get some romance drama that’s expected in a group such as this, but it doesn’t overcome the story. When creepy scenes happen, they actually do hold some eerie value - you can sense the forest being such an isolated spot and whoever - or whatever - is hunting them seems to know that.

One thing is for sure - not everyone gets a happy ending!

I would have enjoyed the book more had the ending stayed in a paranormal vein, even if it had to play up the unknown factor and left some things unresolved. Instead the author tries to come up with a more traditional explanation that starts feeling like dozens of horror movies watched in the past. The story is always pretty slow, so go in wearing your patience badge.

Book Quotes

“Survival 101: if you get lost, remain at ground zero until rescuers find you. Statistically, the heroes who wander off to search for help are more likely to get caught out by the climate or geography and die from exposure.”

The Forest

At the foot of Mount Fuji lies Aokigahara Jukai–better known in the West as Suicide Forest. It’s 13.5 square miles of dense forest, little wildlife, and decomposing bodies…a whole lot of them. Up to 100 are discovered there in any given year. It’s a dark and forbidden place (I know from firsthand experience!), and worthy to be on any list featuring the scariest places in the world.

Read a Preview of the book here from the author (PDF)

Cover Gallery


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