Hi, hello! It’s Mary here with my contribution to All Hallow’s Read! My pick for this showcase is The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, a delightfully spooky and interesting read!
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.*
*Summary taken from Goodreads!
- Title: The Girl from the Well
- Author: Rin Chupeco
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
- Genre: Paranormal, YA, YA Fantasy, Fiction, Supernatural, Thriller
- Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger warnings: Death, ghosts, murder, child abuse, child maltreatment, serial killing, sexual assault, assault, pedophilia
- Representation: Japanese characters
- Rating: ★★★★☆
The Girl from the Well is delightfully unsettling, beautifully written and borderline scary. As the description suggests, this story is told from the point of view of a Japanese spirit, Okiku, who seeks justice for those who commit crimes against children. Okiku’s point of view is an interesting way to read the novel, because a lot of the time she does not communicate with our leading characters – she’s merely observing what is going on and helping where she can. Okiku finds herself observing Tarquin (Tark), a Japanese boy living in America with his father. The interesting thing? Tark has tattoos all over his arms, binding a vengeful spirit to him.
The characters go on a journey from the start, with a progression that feels natural and believable. Tarquin is sarcastic, moody, and disinterested in a lot of things, but secretly strives for his mother’s love. When we first meet him, he’s moving into a new neighbourhood with his father. They moved to be closer to Tark’s mother, who was in a local mental facility. The revelation of why she was in the facility was interesting, offering an insight to the character’s backstory and a clue as to where the story is going. Tark goes through a journey himself, developing from disinterested to determined, wanting to help in any way he can to subdue the evil spirit wanting to break free.
Our second main character is Tark’s cousin, Callie. She has Tark’s best interest at heart, wanting to help him through the feelings he has about his mother (and the attempts on his life by his mother). She is refreshingly supportive, providing the love and attention Tark wants. The most interesting thing about her, however, is how untrusting she is of Okiko, our narrator. Okiku is dark and scary, something that Callie reminds us of through her attitudes and behaviours around Okiku. But, it makes sense! Okiku is a vengeful spirit in her own right, so it makes sense that Callie would be untrusting of her. It was rather refreshing to read a character in a paranormal novel with common sense.
Overall, the highlight of this novel was the Japanese folklore. Chupeco has confirmed that the novel takes inspiration from an old Japanese legend called Bancho Sarayashiki, which translated beautifully into a young adult novel. While I haven’t read the original legend, this novel has sparked my interest and I look forward to falling down a google rabbit hole! The Japanese setting was written beautifully, with a lush writing style being favourable and beautiful to read. I loved reading about the Japanese countryside, finding myself being transported there by my imagination — it was my favourite part of the book!
The Girl from the Well is the perfect book to pick up this Halloween. It’s unsettling and scary, but not to the point of being unreadable. I found myself not being able to put it down, wanting to continue reading well into the night. Despite this book being published in 2015, it still reads fresh and exciting as if it were published yesterday. Rin Chupeco successfully wrote a beautiful and haunting novel, and I look forward to picking up more of their books.
About the Author:
Rin Chupeco wrote obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and did many other terrible things. They now write about ghosts and fairy tales but are still sometimes mistaken as a revenant. They were born and raised in the Philippines and, or so the legend goes, still haunts that place to this very day. Their pronouns are they/them.
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