Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco

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.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: The Girl from the Well #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date:  August 5th 2014
Source/Format: Bought/eBook
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts:
The titular “The Girl from the Well” is Okiku. Her character is loosely based on Banchō Sarayashiki , a popular Japanese ghost story. She is also the narrator of the story. Having Okiku as the storyteller is the key to the book’s allure. She does not tell us what her name is until later. I guess when you are a three-hundred year old ghost girl, having a name is just a trivial thing. Her centuries of existence (or non-existence?) is apparent in her seemingly formal and metaphorical narration. She has her quirks. She gurgles. She is obsessed with counting but particularly dislikes the number nine. She alters talking in first person point of view and to referring to herself in third person. And like the incorporeal being that she is, she shifts seamlessly from one mood to another: from a sense of serene state to an outburst of rage.
Fire, fly."
The story’s focus is the relationship between Okiku and Tark, a fifteen-year old boy with strange tattoos. Tark’s character has his own charms as well. He is aloof and mostly keeps to himself but those are just his defense mechanisms. The real Tark is caring and a smartass goofball. Let me be clear, there is no unnecessary romance here between human and ghost. We just get invested into these charming characters and dive into the pages wanting to know more about things. Why is Okiku drawn to Tark? What’s up with those strange tattoos? And on the sides, there are these delicious merciless murders courtesy of our resident vengeful spirit.

“The Girl from the Well” is haunting but has a heart-warming ending. I swear, haunting AS IN even after days of reading the book, an image of Okiku or the ghosts of the dead children or the black lady will pop in my head and give me the goosies. But ultimately, it’s a story about sacrifices and selflessness. According to Goodreads, this is a first book of a duology but you can totally read it on its own. The plot is pretty tied up in the ending.

Diversity Watch:
Tark is biracial. His dad is American and his mom is Japanese. He is described as having blue eyes and straight black hair.

There are Japanese shrine maidens: Kagura, Machika, Saya, Amaya. And some other fodder for murder Japanese side characters.

Diverse race of ghosts: “There are faces of redheads and blondes and brunettes, of Japanese and American and French, African and Indian and Greek.”
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