"This review almost did not make it to print - the book is so scary that this reviewer dared to read it only in broad daylight, thus needing a deadline extension to finish it.
For a horror title, this can only be good news.
Local artist-writer Otto Fong has cooked up a seriously disturbing tale that is an adroit mix of Japanese scare-fest The Ring, Thai curse stories (raking up nightmare visions of 1980s kong tau - Hokkien for black magic - movies) and gruesome Hollywood flicks such as the Saw and Final Destination franchises.
In an updated twist, Fong's ghost story takes place partly in a social network dubbed Planet Me or PlaM, and smartphones and iPads serve as accessories to supernatural revenge killings.
The plot: When an irresponsible national serviceman named Sailor (hur hur) decides to play a cruel prank on a vacuous, cam-whoring young woman who spurns him, he drags his sister Mee Yah and three of their friends down the road to hell with him.
Hell, in the book's universe, is other people. It is also of the brutal, boiling, blinding grinding-bodies-into-mince-meat variety found in Haw Par Villa's 18 Courts of Hell statuary.
Hence, Sailor and company are dispatched in a series of well-wrought horror set pieces, complete with cuts to painfully slo-mo scenes of some would-be rescuer turning up at the wrong places or oblivious to their comrades' suffering. In fact, the whole book is extremely cinematic. Asian film-makers, take note: Snap up film rights.
The book is peppered with Fong's creepy illustrations, which have the economy and stylisation of tatoos, and similarly sear themselves into your brain like body art.
There are, however, little lapses in editing in this not-recommended-for-under-16s morality allegory: In several places, tags for [images] pop up in the text, probably for intended cartoons which were not inserted.
Still, these are small sins - compared to the lurid fright Fong intentionally puts the reader through. Thanks a lot for the ghastliness."
Clara Chow, The Straits Times, 4th August 2013
"Bitter Suites - A unique horror story that elicits a sense of personal fear as I move along with the plot that's very relatable in this current day and age. Each occurrence plays vividly in my mind as I imagine the characters going through horrific experiences. Frightful and haunting, it definitely gave me the chills.
There's a life lesson to be learnt in this story, so go get a copy and read it to find out more ..."
"Bitter Suites is a poignant reflection of the failings of modern society on many levels. Liken to Christopher Nolan's Inception, the story is multi-layered and multi-faceted. The horror is both physical and psychological. One can't help but praise Otto Fong for taking the bold leap of faith into the world of the macabre, a major departure from the adolescent friendly Sir Fong series. To experience scary, contemporary Southeast Asia, get a copy of Bitter Suites from Kinokuniya or major Popular outlets! *Not recommended for readers under 16 years of age (NC16)."
Ray Tan (via Facebook)
"I'm just halfway into Bitter Suites and its really terrific ! I just love it, the build up and character development surrounding familiar identifiable platforms simply struck the right chords with me ...and there's been so much interesting references like 'house brew and green tea frappe' haha, planet 'Romeo' and even the way Randall committed suicide reminded me of an exact video I watched awhile back ..."
"But it's one of the best horror books I've ever read!!!!! ... I seldom get horrified"
Sing Yee, RI
An old tourist attraction lies in the midst of a rapidly-developing city state. Will it fade away peacefully?
A powerful social network connects us to the world and our closest friends 24/7 via smart phones and tablet screens. Can that connection sometimes turn sour and even fatal?
Where people go, love, hate, jealousy and deceit will follow.
A petty man plots a seemingly harmless prank. A simple girl gets trapped by the curse of her childhood. A protective sister finds herself fighting against an insatiable hunger for blood.
For the ancient has bled its way into the modern, and soon everyone will pay their debts fully inside the Bitter Suites.
* Not recommended for readers under 16 years of age