The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco
Released on: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 3.5 stars
Word Rating: Creeeeepy
Reviewed by: Mel
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 feel that The Girl from the Well will be receiving a lot of mixed reviews because of two factors. Firstly, this book isn’t necessarily that horrific. It certainly has a creep factor to it, but don’t expect sleepless nights and monsters under your bed—after all, this is a YA novel. Nevertheless, Rin Chupeco’s detailed, gruesome descriptions and intense narrative are still pretty satisfying. Just don’t get too expectant. Secondly, the writing style is different. The writing is rather hard to describe; it’s from the perspective of Okiku, our girl from the well and being a ghost and all, no one can see her so it feels as if Okiku is just narrating the story in a third person narrative which feels rather emotionless and passive. Regardless, I loved the writing style, it’s very abrupt, but for me, engaging. I can see that the writing will make some wane away, though it’s worth giving a go.
Her bright, sunken eyes look out from the hollows of her face, and her lipless mouth is pulled back to reveal horrible brown teeth, sharp as a canine’s. Her hair is a mottled black, a symphony of disorder and disease.Aside from Okiku who basically narrates the story in her quirky way, the other main characters include Tarquin and Callie. Tarquin has had a rough life, his mother once tried to kill him and even gave him weird tattoos on his shoulder when he was only a little kid—he wanted a normal mother, but clearly that was too much to ask for. Tarquin has also been seeing a ghost—the same one each time—the woman who wears a mask and a black dress, it’s like she’s bound to him, because he’s been seeing her for most of his life and ever since he moved to Applegate, the ghost’s appearances are more frequent. As for Callie, she’s Tarquin’s cousin and the assistant teacher at the local school.
Unfortunately, where this book went wrong for me was in the characters. I didn’t really mind having a distance between me and the narrator—Okiku the ghost in the white dress—she was rather intimidating and sometimes really scary, but I felt rather detached from Tarquin and Callie. I could understand and feel what the characters were going through but at times, I just wanted to grab their heads and open then wide so I could take a peek and see exactly what they were feeling and thinking. Essentially, I wanted a stronger emotional connection between myself and Tarquin and Callie—Tarquin especially.
In all, The Girl from the Well is a rather creepy though enticing read that I did enjoy, though failed to love. I found the story line to be really unique and I was very curious about how everything was to be unravelled, and I wasn’t disappointed in that retrospect. More effort on the characters would have been appreciated. This YA ghost story is definitely worth giving a try.