Book #16: The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

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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 will be completely honest, I bought this book for the cover. I am a huge horror fan and I especially love Eastern horror films. They are psychological and I love ghosts. That said, I was excited to see a different rendition to a ghost story that reminded me of The Ring (a movie I remember and love).

Let’s begin with the narration of the book. Okiku is a spirit and our narrator. There are moments when the book has disjointed writing and moments when the book seems to be a regular third person versus a character observing what is happening. Honestly, none of that bothered me. The observing narrator reminded me of Nick Carroway in The Great Gatsby, a character I actually really liked. I find an observing narrator to be the closest reliable narrator you can have. They don’t tend to insert themselves into the story as the main character or the hero.

Okay, that may not be completely true in Okiku’s case, but I didn’t see her as the saving grace of the story. She was more of a force that helped the main characters, Tark and Callie. A tool, but a very powerful tool . . . who has feelings . . . and an obsession with numbers.

The number thing is important. Not only is Okiku’s backstory hinged on numbers, but she observes things in numbers. As I read, I found myself seeing the exact number of dolls, characters, spirits of dead children . . . the list goes on. In my opinion, it gave the world more depth and added to that disjointed, almost psychological, element to it. This book was a very visual story. The numbers helped with the imagery as much as the rest of the narration.

Tark, as a main character, is probably one of my most favorite of male leads. He reminds me a bit of Scott Tracey’s main character, Braden, in his Witch Eyes trilogy (a character near and dear in my heart). Tark is sarcastic, angry, and a very emo teen boy. He has a very good reason for it too. Not only did he almost get killed multiple times, he is also being shadowed by an evil spirit (not Okiku, though she starts too). I mean, you can’t really fault a person for being angsty and a bit of a shit when that’s going on.

To be honest, I love his snark. I could relate to both he and his cousin, Callie, but for different reasons. I loved the story, the Eastern inspiration, and the characters in this book. The writing was great in its disjointed splendor (which reminded me a bit like poetry). I was only halfway done when I bought the second book and I have a feeling I’ll be reading it very soon.

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