The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
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.
I loved this book! The Girl From the Well is written from the perspective of the ghost. That horrifying dead Asian girl with the long black hair in front of her face you always see in pop culture? She is the main character. The back cover and Goodreads promoted this book as a mixture between The Ring, The Grudge and Dexter. I definitely found that to be true. The ghost, Okiku, was thrown down a well over 300 years ago and now she stalks those who do harm to children.
The Girl From the Well makes you feel for the ghost and cheer her on as she claims her victims. It was a terrible fate that befell her and the feeling of justice as she kills those who have forced the same fate on other children is satisfying. My favorite thing about this book was the imagery and use of written language. Okiku can sense if a person has killed a child but there are a few characters in the story, including the mysterious Tark and some gifted children, that can determine killers by her second method. Killers have the ghosts of the dead hanging on to their backs. Spooky! I also liked the way the novel was written. Chupeco chopped up some of Okiku’s thoughts and feelings on the page like they would be in her mind. Some words are on a line by themselves, some are all written together, some are all uppercase, etc. At first I was irritated. A lot of authors try to use this method of writing but it feels as if they are trying too hard. As I read on, I saw how this method added to the story and made your brain read along at a pace and cadence that reflected Okiku’s mind.
I loved all of the culture packed into the story as well. The story of Okiku is a well known Japanese ghost story. As described in the book, she is basically the “patient zero” for creepy Asian girls with dark hair covering their faces. The way Chupeco weaved an existing ghost story with traditional Japanese dolls and her own storytelling was masterful. I, also, was so pleased that the latter half of the novel takes place in Japan. Many YA novels stick to the US or UK or a made up world. I found it refreshing and also necessary. The novel wouldn’t have been as strong if Okiku and her interactions had stayed in the US.
- Spooky retelling of a ghost story with a new spin
- Great writing and imagery
- A lot of Japanese culture
The Not So Good
- The back cover says Tark is 17 when he is really 15 and turns 16 in the book
- I did not like searching for these GIFs, Japan is terrifying!
Absolutely, yes! A great spooky read!