The Girl from the Well (The Girl from the Well #1)
It's hard to say what I loved most about this book. The narrator Okiku is fascinating. Her sentences are sometimes broken up over several lines, and her obsession with counting things interrupts her view of events and reminds the reader that the story is being told by a centuries old Japanese revenant whose sanity sometimes slips and who has long ago forgotten what it felt like to be human. Okiku is terrifying as befits a vengeful spirit trapped on this plane and given the task of destroying those who murder children, but she also feels safe to the reader. We know her intentions toward Tark are pure, and we feel no pity for the victims she takes throughout the story. This is a horror novel where the horror feels like a natural extension of the narrator and the culture, and so what will keep the reader up late at night isn't fear of Okiku, it's an insatiable need to know what happens next.
The world itself is seamlessly delivered. Japanese culture, both past and present, provide the backbone for the story and will appeal to readers who already love Japanese mythology while making new fans along the way. The mythology is unmistakably Japanese (and indeed the second half of the book takes place in Japan), but is so expertly rendered that it is immediately familiar and accessible to readers who are new to it.
The plot is fascinating, and the pacing pulls the reader forward while still allowing the reader to find places to linger within the world. I especially enjoyed the clashing of the ghosts (the one inside Tark and Okiku), but the evolution of the characters is equally compelling. Readers who already love horror will find much to enjoy in this book, but readers who are hesitant about horror will also find a book destined to be one of their favorites. The horror aspects are not gratuitous (and much of the true horror happens off-page), and the mythological aspect reads more like a supernatural thriller.
Rin Chupeco displays a deft command of language and is a compelling new voice in the YA horror genre. THE GIRL FROM THE WELL is a stunning, atmospheric debut that I highly recommend.
The Girl From The Well had me from the very first page. The writing is just stunning and the way that she talks about death is incredible.
"I am where dead children go. With other kinds of dead it is different. Often their souls drift quietly away, like a leaf caught in the throes of a hidden whirlpool; slipping down without sound, away from sight. They roll and ebb gently with the tides until they sink beneath the waves and I no longer see where they go - like sputtering candlelight, like little embers that burn briefly and brightly for several drawn moments before all their light goes out."
Okiku is not like these gentle spirits. She is vengeful and cruel to her victims. She enjoys torturing those who would hurt children and is very inventive in their manner of punishment. The opening scene of this novel features just such a death. It is creepy, suspenseful and very well written. It was like watching the first moments of a truly terrific horror movie. One of the aspects that I loved was the idea that the victims of these men were tethered to their murderer. Forced to follow him as he stalked the next child until Okiku ends his reign of terror and sets them free. Much like Anna Dressed in Blood (which I LOVED) it was very easy to root for the slightly psychotic ghost who murders people in the most brutal of fashions, which is a pretty fun twist on the conventional ghost story.
The narrative style is very unique. We watch through Okiku's eyes and most of the other characters spend most or all of their time being referred to by names like The Stained Man or The Smiling Man. We only begin to see names for them as they become more important to the plot. We do not even learn Okiku's name until we are quite a ways into the narrative. These adds and extra sense of mystery to the novel as we are not only waiting to learn what exactly is plaguing Tark, but also the sad story behind Okiku's fate. While the narrative style make take some getting used to, the plot features great pacing with lots of scary moments and horrifying interludes. Even as we travel from the states to Japan, there are both small, creepy, moments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and those big, intense, scenes that can leaving you reaching to turn on yet another light.
I will fully admit that I know next to nothing about Japanese culture and mythology so, please, correct me if I am wrong but the background here seems very solid and well researched. I found it very refreshing to read about the folklore of a culture that is so far removed from my own and not just another take on the same old ghost story that I have been reading since childhood. The one thing I did find a little off-putting is that,once they arrived in Japan, there were a number of Japanese terms that were explained once and then brought up again later. I could not, for the life of me, remember what those words had meant and I found the plot slowed for me as I tried to remember or sometimes, flip back to locate the meaning.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I am definitely recommending this one, especially as a Halloween read, and signing on for Chupeco's next book.
I'm not very familiar with the story that this book is based off of, but you don't necessarily have to be in order to enjoy this book! This book was disturbing, creepy, and I loved it!
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the POV. The POV is mostly from Okiku's perspective. Okiku is a very interesting perspective because she's, well, a vengeful spirit which makes her a very interesting narrator. Her perspective is also interesting because she, since she's a ghost, she is oftentimes (when she's not killing anyone) just floating around in the background, telling up the events happening in front of her. It's kind of a perspective I don't see very often in books, reminded me of Tiger Lily, only because of the narration.
I also, of course, loved the creepiness of the book. I love ghost stories, they scare the hell out of me, but I find ghosts stories very intriguing! This book was no different! I loved how creepy this book was and I was very interested to figure out what exactly was going on. Yes, I read this book in one sitting.
And now, something I was very happy to find out about this book: THERE WAS NO ROMANCE! Yes! While I can sometimes be a romantic, romance usually annoys me in books and I was so glad that I found a book where there was no stupid, pathetic romance to distract the characters and the reader (me) from the actual plot.
So, I keep raving about this book, what problems did I have with it? It's odd, but some of the things I loved about this book, I also didn't like. I loved the unique narration, but it made me feel disconnected from the story. I loved the creepiness, but it wasn't creepy enough for me (which is odd, since this was a very creepy book). These "issues" are very small and are not really a big problem. Overall, I still loved this book.
If you're looking for a fact-paced, horror-filled YA book with NO ROMANCE! Yes, you definitely need to pick up this book, you will not want to put it down.
I am definitely looking forward to more from Rin Chupeco.