The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco
Expected Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View at the Traffic light:
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.
A dead girl walks the streets.
She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.
And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.
Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.
The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.
The Girl from the Well was delightfully creepy from the very beginning. I mean, just look at these gems from the first few pages(all quotations checked from the ARC and should be checked against a final copy upon publication):
“I am where the dead children go.
With other kinds of dead it is different. Often their souls drift quietly away, like a leaf caught in the throes of a hidden whirlpool; slipping down without sound, away from sight.”
“And then there are the murdered-dead. And they are peculiar, stranger things.
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. . . We do not go gently, as your poet encourages, into the good night. We are the fates that people fear to become. We are what happens to good persons, and to bad persons, and to every one in between.”
Those first pages were enough to hook me on The Girl from the Well. We’re introduced to the story of Okiku, the main character(and a spirit) as she haunts her prey. It’s soon learned by other characters that Okiku drowned three hundred years ago, hanging upside down in a well. Now Okiku seeks revenge on murderers of children. And Okiku’s hauntings and revenge killings? Seriously creepy. Read this one with the lights on. I felt like I was holding my breath from beginning to end of The Girl from the Well. Okiku’s victims are killed gruesomely and the text doesn’t spare many details.
The Girl from the Well may begin with Okiku’s revenge, but soon after the other characters emerge. Okiku’s drawn to a boy she sees, Tarquin, because of his strange tattoos that seem to move and the malevolent spirit that seems to be attached to him. With the introductory of Tarquin comes his cousin Callie, who’s obviously smart and resourceful but way in over her head when it comes to spirits.
Eventually the story moves to Japan which is where most of the actual plot goes down–finding out the origin of Tarquin’s tattoos, why his mother was placed in an insane asylum, and how they can possible free Tarquin from the evil spirit. All the while, Okiku observes(and sometimes does things, when she can, though it’s made clear that are certain limits to her power). I wasn’t sure about the way Okiku, Tarquin, and Callie’s story intertwined at first, but it eventually won me over. I will say that I thought the pacing sort of slowed once the story moved to Japan, because the first half of the book was SUPER intense and things were happening, happening, happening. I still really enjoyed The Girl from the Well(and the Japanese influences were really great, don’t get me wrong), but it had been on track to be a 5 star read until about the middle.
Minor complaint aside, The Girl from the Well was creepy and fantastic. There’s definitely some narrative distance between Okiku and the actual events, which was jarring at first, but made perfect sense. Okiku, as a character, *is* pretty detached from the events. She may care about certain things as a ghost, but they don’t affect her the same way they would affect a living person, and the distance shows that.
Without going too much into the plot(for fear of spoilers), to conclude I’ll just say again that The Girl from the Well was pretty much everything I could have wanted from a creepy YA read. Lovely writing, a fascinating narrator, and some truly terrifying moments.
Since I’ve been getting more intro horror/creepy books lately, I knew I just had to try The Girl from the Well, and it was SO WORTH it. A truly creepy and fascinating story plus Japanese influences. What more could I ask for? 4/5 cupcakes.