Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Published May 1st 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire
Received as a gift
Horror books in the YA genre often seem to be a rather flimsy excuse for smooching in dark corners rather than providing actual scares. The Girl from the Well does not fit this picture at all, featuring no romance to speak of and scenes reminiscent of popular horror movies like The Ring.
Okiku is a vengeful spirit. She is compelled to hunt those who have killed children, giving them their deserved horrible death. She has subsided in this manner for centuries, but when she notices a boy with strange tattoos, the monotony of her existence is shaken up.
Interestingly, The Girl from the Well is mostly told from Okiku’s point of view, yet the focus of the story is not Okiku herself but rather Tark and his cousin Callie. Tark’s story is slowly revealed while Okiku observes the humans, seldom interfering herself. In a way, this was rather unsatisfactory – there is little room for emotional depth because Okiku only observes actions. The reader is constantly reminded of a distance between themselves and the characters. Additionally, I would have loved to learn more about Okiku and her past. Many readers aren’t very enarmoured with flashbacks, but I think in this case more insights into her past would have strengthened the narrative.
The upside of Okiku’s point of view is that The Girl from the Well is written in a highly visual manner. Combined with a subject matter – Japanese mythology – that is relatively in the public conciousness through horror movies such as The Ring, the book provides some very hauntingly familiar images.
Very creepy though ultimately never truly scary because of the distance between the reader and the characters, The Girl from the Well is a short but enjoyable read. Especially its basis in Japanese folklore makes the novel worthwhile.
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.