“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 am the fate that people fear to become. I am what happens to good persons, and to bad persons, and to everyone in between. I am who I am.
I’ve always been a closet horror fan — I don’t openly share that I like horror, but I do like scaring myself and getting my heart pumping. So it’s been quite disappointing that so far what little YA horror books I’ve read aren’t real horror at all, but categorized under that just because they contain ghosts and maybe some haunted places. But that was before I read The Girl from the Well. While this book didn’t scare me as much as I’d hoped, it still sent some satisfying shivers down my spine — and that counts, right?
What I liked best about The Girl from the Well was the descriptions. Rin Chupeco didn’t shy away from including gruesome and gory details, like limbs rolling all over the floor or headless bodies under beds. I’ve noticed that a lot of authors tend to gloss over these descriptions, taking away the whole creepy atmosphere of the book in the process. This didn’t happen here, though. The descriptions were vivid and I could picture them clearly. Like this:
And from inside this bathtub a decomposing hand reaches out, grabbing the side with enough strength that the porcelain cracks from the urgency of its grip. The Stained Shirt Man slides to the floor in shock and fright, legs suddenly useless, as I heave myself up and over the bathtub, to land in a heap of flesh before him.
Isn’t that just like something out of a horror movie? So incredibly easy to imagine, and so deliciously creepy, too. I just loved it.
The change of setting in this book was also refreshing — while the first half took place in America, the second half was set in Japan. Japan has always been a mysterious country for me, since it has a very rich history and is of course home to some of the most chilling ghost stories ever, so being able to read more about the well-known tale of Okiku, and actually see things from her perspective, was a great experience. I did wish that the author had explored her character in a little more depth, though.
The main reason why I rated this book 3.5 stars and not 4 was mostly because of my emotional detachment from the characters. It wasn’t that they were boring or anything, it’s just that I felt they lacked emotional depth, so I couldn’t connect with them on that level. Mostly my feelings toward Tarquin, Callie, and Okiku were borderline indifferent, even though I liked them overall. It would’ve been a lot more meaningful and impactful if I’d formed stronger bonds with these characters!
I have to admit that The Girl from the Well took me a little while to get into. The beginning was interesting, but then there was a slight lag in pacing after that, because I had to constantly check back on the blurb to remind myself of where the story was going because it didn’t seem to have a direction at all! It was probably only after 35% in that I finally realized what was going on.
But don’t let these negative things stop you from reading this! At the end of the day, Rin Chupeco’s debut YA book was a true horror novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. I mean, with creepy dolls, exorcisms, murderous spirits and gore, what more can you ask for, really?
304 pages, e-galley from NetGalley
Published August 5, 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: The Book Depository // Amazon