Promenade of the Gods also known as Kamigami No Promenade is a Novel by Koji Suzuki, creator of the Popular Ring Franchise and known as the “Stephen King” of Japanese literature. I have been a big fan of his work that has been translated to English and released over the past few years. His first book released on the English market was ‘Ring’ which I read over two days in 2003. “Ring” is the Novel on which the original Japanese Film and Remake are based on. It’s a great read and after that I followed on with reading “Spiral” aka “Rasen”, “Dark Water”, “Loop”, “The Birthday” and recently “Promenade of the Gods”. All the books except “Dark Water” are related to each other. Promenade of the Gods is only loosely related though. The story within this book was first mentioned in passing in “Ring”, describing the Cult leader Kageyama, although I don’t personally recall the reference myself. However I do not see how this is taking place within the same realm as the previous Novels. There is no mention of the devastating effects of the Ring Virus nor is the world overrun by Sadakos.
The only possible links I could find were weak ones. When the main character is reading of the life events of a Cult leader, the character feels almost as if he were looking through the eyes of the writer himself as the story he reads changes to the first perspective. This is similar to the Novel Ring where the main characters watch a video and find themselves to be experiencing the sensations of what they see on the tape as if they themselves were experiencing it. Another similar instance is where the main character dreams of a strange man with rolling eyes like that of a fruits machine and later discovers that the person he dreamed of was that of the cult leader whom he had no prior knowledge of. That is where the similarities end though and nothing else comes of this connection. In fact the mysterious dream of the cult leader is never capitalized on or even explained. As with many things in the novel it’s quite a let down. There’s a lot of build up of momentum that goes nowhere and falls flat.
The story revolves around a man named Shirow whom believes his friend’s disappearance is related to a Cult and may be a kidnapping. He and his friend’s wife try to solve the mystery behind the cult and find his friend.
You might find some product descriptions putting emphasis on the disappearance been related to a TV show, while this is partly true it is only a minor point that I’m sure was used as a cash in on Ring.
There are major problems with this book, besides some glaring translation errors the story seems to not know where it’s going. I get the impression that Koji Suzuki built this up so much that he lost interest or didn’t know where to take it. He seemed at first to be creating a mystery on the level of “Ring” but it falls flat on it’s face. It took too long to get moving, no big story turning events happen, the mystery just keeps growing without conclusions to any elements of it.
For half the book it’s mostly devoted to whether the two main characters will sleep with each other.
After they finally do make up their minds there is much repetition of the information discovered about this Cult of ‘Heaven and Earth’. Three quarters way through the story and I started to say “get on with it” when the characters kept repeating the same questions. I began to wonder if Koji Suzuki wasn’t just padding a story that was going nowhere. For 300 pages nothing is truly revealed, everything is surrounded in mystery and any clues obtained by the main characters are used to speculate and theorize without any hard facts and that is a mistake as Sherlock Holmes himself would say. Keeping the story and mystery under wraps and leaving only theory as the substance of the story I felt wasn’t enough and there really was nothing of worth in the interaction between characters. The story moved nowhere and plodded along with no sense of immediacy.
By the end the main Character feels that a joke has been played on him and that all of his investigation has been for nothing. After reading this book I knew how he felt.
I had highly looked forward to this installment even going as far as to e-mail Vertical to ask when it would be published, but I was bitterly disappointed after reading and it was the hardest book of Suzuki’s to get through. I practically ate his other works which i highly recommend. But this I think he himself even gave up on.
If you have not read them pick up Dark Water and the ring series but let this one gather dust at the book store as it adds nothing to what came before.