Volumes 1 and 2
Another by Yukito Ayatsuji
Although not exactly small press, it is fairly difficult to find these Japanese novels in a translated form over here (by here I mean North America). Another is one of those rare finds, currently only available in English in the form of an ebook (split into two separate volumes). It's a horror story and mystery with a distinctly Japanese feel. And while it's true that some of the story and writing do get a little lost in translation, for a unique horror mystery, I can't recommend this enough. I first discovered it as an anime series with subtitles, but by the completion of the series I was all over the internet looking for an English translation in book form. What a waiting game that turned out to be!
It's now available, sort of, on many ebook seller sites. Amazon might have Vol. 1 , but then you might have to search around for Vol. 2 on B&N or Kobo, or one of the multitude of other ebook sellers. It's much easier to find in its other incarnations: an anime series (both subbed and dubbed), a live action movie and an epic Manga book. But being a sucker for a good novel, it was the novel I had to track down.
The story follows Kouichi Sakakibara, a third year student who transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School after the term has begun. He immediately becomes aware of a strangeness that surrounds his class, third year Class 3. More than just the 'seven mysteries' - urban legends that are associated with an individual school - Koichi's class seems to be genuinely cursed. Class 3, it seems, has become closer to death. Almost every year, although not every year, people associated with Class 3 are haunted by death. During a curse year or 'on' year, people die. They could be students, students' family members or anyone closely associated with Class 3. And they often die horribly. Whenever there is an extra student in the class, someone that was not previously accounted for at the start of the term, the class has to scramble to make arrangements and it becomes an 'on' year. When Koichi joins the class he decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but can he help prevent the coming horror or will he make it worse? Another struck me as a unique horror and mystery story, not a typical ghost haunting or gory slasher tale. The suspense works well and the reader is often left with a very creepy feeling. For the overall idea and story execution I give it five stars. Given that it's in ebook format, it is probably a good idea that it's split into two volumes of roughly 300 pages or so. The first volume is much better than the second. The writing - or translation - does fall apart a little in the second volume and there are places where the story moves a little too slowly. But I still recommend it.
The ebook can be hard to find, so here are some links that might be helpful if you're interested:
Another, vol 1, 2
Another Vol 1 on Amazon
Another Vol 2 Kobo
If you don't want to struggle with the challenge of finding the novel versions of the story, you can pick up the Manga (a whopping 700+ pages) on Amazon or at Chapters. The Anime is more readily available, but get the subbed version. Trust me, the voices really don't work as well in English. And I would probably skip the live action movie altogether. Not that it's bad or anything, just, you know, the usual. Books and movies made from books. How many of those movies do you actually really like?