Title: The Girl From The Well
Series/Universe: The Girl From The Well, #1
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, Sourcebooks Inc.
Publication date: August 5th 2014
Page Count: 272 pages
Age Rating: YA & Up (disturbing imagery, blood, gore, and violence)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: The Girl From The Well
The Ring meets The Exorcist in this haunting story about an American boy whose last hope for protection lies with a vengeful ghost
Okiku wants vengeance…and she gets it. Whenever there’s a monster hurting a child-the same way she was hurt 300 years ago in Japan-her spirit is there to deliver punishment. But one American boy draws her like no other. The two are pulled into a world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from the American Midwest to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan. The boy is not a monster, but something evil writhes beneath his skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. Can Okiku protect him? Or is her presence only bringing more harm?
Odds are you’re familiar with the image of an onryō, the vengeful spirit of Japanese tradition who can affect the world of the living. Shown in movies like The Ring and The Grudge, the onryō is usually depicted in a certain, semi-traditional way – long white dress and long, dark hair hanging down, partially concealing pallid, corpse-like skin.
Okiku, the main character of The Girl From The Well, is such a spirit.
Once an innocent young girl before being brutally murdered, Okiku has been exacting her revenge for the last 300 years, horrifically killing those who hurt innocent young children or teens. Okiku wanders the earth, from one blood-soaked revenge killing to the next. It is during one of her wandering that she catches sight of Tarquin, a teen boy covered with intriguing tattoos. There is a darkness in the boy, something evil contained within his body. Intrigued by something other than vengeance for the first time in a very long time, Okiku sets out, with the help of Callie, Tarquin’s eighteen year-old cousin, to assist the boy in his battle with the evil within.
The Girl From The Well is not a book for the faint of heart – it’s bloody and gory and contains multiple scenes of violent murder. The level of blood, gore, and violence is on par with Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed In Blood (Tor, 2011) or the movies mentioned above (both rated PG-13). Okiku is much more than just an antihero, she’s a vengeful serial-killing ghost who doesn’t think twice about murdering those she thinks deserves it in drawn-out, gruesome ways. But deep inside the murdering spirit is the young, innocent girl she used to be. It is that part of herself that Tarquin calls to, and it that part of herself that is drawn to the teen boy. The connection between Okiku and Tarquin is not romantic, not at all really, it’s more like the two share a mutual fascination with one another.
Written in a somewhat stream of conscience style, the book is narrated by Okiku and told through her first person, omniscient perspective, giving the reader an insider view into the thoughts of the other characters as well as a bird’s eye view of everything going on. Using the real life legend of Okiku as a jumping off point, the author does a great job of combining Japanese lore, legends, and locations together in this imaginative and wholly unique story.
I haven’t been this excited about and utterly enthralled by a YA horror book in a long time. Absolutely unique and original, I highly recommend The Girl From The Well to anyone and everyone who likes horror and/or Japanese culture and legends (which the author does a great job of weaving the story around). I will not only read this author again, but I will squeal with joy and make grabby hands when I see the name Rin Chupeco on upcoming books.
The Roasterie Full Vengeance Dark Blend – a dark, earthy coffee with a surprisingly sweet underlying taste. This blend brings to mind Okiku from The Girl From The Well. My favorite character from the book, Okiku is gritty and dark, a tool of bloody vengeance, but that is not all she is. Okiku is also a young girl underneath, someone who cares and helps in her own way. Just because something seems all dark, doesn’t mean there’s not a hint of sweetness lying somewhere deep within.