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.
Genre: Young Adult; Horror; Paranormal Fiction
Page count: 267 (Hardcover); 299 (Kindle version)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.45/5)
If you are a tea drinker then this is your lucky day my friend because I have the perfect recommendation for you.
This book gets so well with blood orange tea that I think I don’t even want to consider this a well-put pun.
I am not joking though. Try some hot and sweet blood orange tea while reading this! It is a match.
(And it is also caffeine-free so your heart is going to race only because of the book and not of the tea *wink, wink*).
Now, let’s say a proper hello to this cutie-pie of a horror book, shall we?
Don’t you love it when some scary-ass thing happens to you while reading a creepy book? Yeah, me neither.
As you well know, there are so many books and films where people get kidnapped or attacked by spirits or something like that and before that the light goes out. Do you know what I mean, right?
Oh, well, try to be home alone and to read The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco in the middle of the night, thinking that shit like vengeful ghosts and monsters do not exist. Then you hear a weird sound from outside your flat and puff! the power is cut off and you have a panic attack in the dark because you cannot see a thing. “It is me, isn’t it? I am next, aren’t I, Okiku? Please, really, I didn’t do a thing wrong! That ugly mosquito deserved to die!!“
I didn’t die though. Okiku spared my life. But I’m never going to read something like this in the middle of the night while home alone ever again (and by that I mean until the next time because I am a liar). I don’t know what my neighbours do with the power, but it ends up cut off pretty often. Vengeful spirits have nothing to do with that
So, all nice and good, but who is this Okiku?
Okiku is this story’s main spirit. She is the girl from the well.
This Okiku is a Japanese legend. A vengeful spirit, she seeks her revenge on the ones who did her wrong, because the once simple servant in a Japanese castle, she is now a human-made monster.
“ I am the fate that people fear to become.“
Rin Chupeco inspires herself from this legend of Banchō Sarayashiki and manages to twist and turn her words and plots and make up a great story. And the great part is that there are actually plenty of Japanese folkloric legends in this book!
Giving the fact that a part of the action is going to take place in Japan, the world constructed by Chupeco is fairly accurate. Even though I’ve seen Japan only in pictures, her descriptions are as much accurate as any disoriented image I’d have in my own mind. And giving the fact that this decor is so well-described, the myths and symbols and legends brought into action fit in like a glove.
Aside from the legend of the servant girl Okiku, Rin Chupeco manages to tackle another interesting Japanese legends as well as urban stories.
(Now, not that I am being macabre but if anyone is curious about it, check out Junko Furuta’s story, but I am warning you, it is pretty emotionally wrecking).
Hideous murders and disgusting and inhuman creatures crawl to surface from within this book and the manner with which everything is narrated is easy to make you want to find out more.
“But there are many things, I have found, that defy nature.”
Another interesting thing to look out for in this book is the leitmotif of Japanese dolls.
I am not very experienced in Japanese culture in general, but I do know that Japanese dolls are a thing. And in this story, they play a very important role in leading the whole plot to a, let’s say, “occult” road.
This book’s characters are also very nicely constructed. Tark and Callie are cousins. Their connection is so interesting and so beautiful that you cannot but to fall in love with them both. Tarquin is a really weird boy who has been seeing ghosts all of his life. Callie is this type of straight-A student who enjoys doing extracurricular work and study, but as soon as she gets tangled in her cousin’s mysteriously dangerous life, everything seems to rearrange in Callie’s life. They become a team. Like the Japanese ghostbusters or something.
“Sometimes it is better to be a little unusual every now and then than to be common all the time.”
The thing that I really love about the characters of this book is that the good ones instantly capture your heart and the bad ones immediately make you want to punch them in the face. It is a very interesting mixture.
Now, as an end confession, I would like to say that this book is in my personal top of great books that are horribly underrated because it is a really good book. It seems to be a classic horror, with simple but terrifying elements that lure and provoke addiction. The amount of scary is just as it should because in this way all the legends and symbols introduced to us by Rin Chupeco can shine the same amount. The mixture between these two elements seems to be perfectly balanced and the best topping of them all is the marvellous description of the Japanese scene of action.
To sum up, read this book! It has:
- My absolute admiration;
- Ghost stories;
- Terrifying murders;
- Japanese culture;
- Japanese words (in case anyone wants to brush up);
- A ghostbuster dream team.
So, there you go. If you don’t want to upset Okiku, please read this story. You’re going to both love it and learn how to sleep with a tiny light on for a couple of days!
“But for a long, long time, I was a great and terrible thing.”
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