Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara will host award-winning author Alma Katsu for a free virtual book dicussion on Wednesday, April 27, at 6 p.m. (Pacific). 

The writer will discuss her latest book, “The Fervor,” a horror novel set in a Japanese American incarceration camp, with journalist Michael Takeuchi.

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The acclaimed author of the celebrated literary horror novels “The Hunger” and “The Deep” turns her psychological and supernatural eye on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.

Alma Katsu

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 arrives, 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.

Katsu is the award-winning author of six novels, including “Red Widow.” 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 U.S. agencies. She lives in West Virginia with her husband.

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