Review: The Fervor by Alma Katsu

Review by Eliza

This review first appeared at Leviathan Libraries

Meiko and her daughter, Aiko, struggle to survive when a mysterious illness spreads throughout the Japanese internment camp in the U.S. they’ve been sent to while Meiko’s husband is away, fighting in the war. An ambitious reporter smells a story when she sees an explosion in the woods one night, while the pastor that betrayed Meiko and Aiko deals with a tragic loss after a similar explosion near his home. As hate spreads throughout America, Meiko and the reporter race to find a cure for the illness. They might be able to cure physical symptoms, but is there any way to cure fear?

The Fervor by Alma Katsu

Title: The Fervor | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons | Pub Date: 2022-04-26 | Pages: 320 | ISBN13: 978-0593328330 | Genre: Historical Thriller/Horror | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

The Fervor Review

The Fervor is an ambitious novel. It’s a densely-written story with multiple POV characters, including some scenes that jump back in time. Each chapter’s clearly labeled so readers can orient themselves in the time and place, which prevents confusion as the story progresses. This approach pays off from circling around the events as they’re unfolding and enables readers to see the threads weaving together as the story approaches the resolution. This really paid off, because it made it possible to anticipate some of the developments, which made the final act rewarding.

Alma Katsu breathes life into 1940s America after Pearl Harbor. Since this is a historical novel, many readers have classified it as a historical thriller or historical mystery. The majority of Goodreads readers have labeled it horror, and it’s worth noting that the novel contains elements of multiple genres. To me, that has the benefit of appealing to a wide range of readers, but some readers may feel it doesn’t hold true to the genre conventions they expect. 

For me, it worked well. Incidents in various states piqued my curiosity, and most of all, I wondered how they’d tie together and how the story would be resolved. Katsu’s talent and experience shine through here, because the plot mechanics aren’t transparent, but they make sense as they unfold, leading to a satisfying resolution. I also appreciated the fact that the horrors in this story are all too real. Fear, hate, and ignorance are powerful forces, and they can be deadly, and that’s clear in this novel. The pastor’s path shows how easy it is for people to be swept up in events, leading to tragic mistakes and lifelong regrets.

The story does feel like it starts slow, but it picks up speed as it progresses, and I think the slow start helps anchor readers in the different perspectives. Katsu takes her time to develop the characters and reveal their motivations and mistakes. These characters are complex, which makes them feel very real. I don’t think there can ever be enough written about the horrors during WWII, and while it’s common for people to talk about Nazi concentration camps, North Americans have buried their dark history from that time. Books like The Fervor use the lens of fiction to shine a light on historic events and remind us all how easy it is to give into fear and hate. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it won’t be the last. ⅘ stars.

Consumers needing content warnings are urged to Check out The Fervor‘s page on Does the Dog die by clicking this link: The Fervor (Book, 2022) –

Eliza Bio

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