Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

If you’re looking for a perfect October read for spooky season, look no further than Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well. It’s a delightful feast of nightmare fuel reminiscent of Japanese horror films that should be talked about more.

About The Girl from the Well

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire  |  Release Date: August 5, 2014  |  Pages: 267
Genre: Young Adult, Horror  |  Format: eBook  |  Source: Purchased

cover for The Girl from the WellYou 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. 

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My Review of The Girl from the Well

photo of kindle copy The Girl from the Well✨ You can read an excerpt of The Girl from the Well here!

“The Girl from the Well is a YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.”

Honestly, “Dexter” meets “The Grudge” is among the best comps I’ve ever seen and perfectly sums up this purely horrific and vengeful story of a dead girl who hunts murderers. Inspired by a famous Japanese ghost story, the book follows the afterlife of Okiku – a girl who was brutally murdered and thrown into a well 300 years ago and has turned into a vengeful spirit.

Visceral and graphic, The Girl from the Well feels like you are trapped in a horror movie. I love the the author doesn’t shy away from describing the setting and horror in great detail, starting off at 110% on like the fourth page of the book.

“I am where dead children go.”

The writing is hauntingly melancholic yet also detached, and Okiku’s cold detachment is one of the most unsettling aspects of the story. She rarely uses the character’s names, instead giving them nicknames like The Smiling Man, which further highlights she is apart from the world of the living. The one downside of the narrator’s detachment is that I had a difficult time really connecting or caring about the characters. Sure, I rooted for them because of the situations they were in, but they didn’t feel necessarily well-rounded; I found this to be more plot-driven.

“The noises stop and the television flickers back on […] for a few seconds, something else flashes across the screen. It is a wide, staring eye and it is looking back at him. It disappears, though the buzzing continues.”

I’ll admit that I spent a good portion of the book confused. Okiku’s narration focuses on what she witnesses as it happens, not divulging the additional details she has for the reader. But surprisingly, this didn’t frustrate me and I was intrigued enough to figure out what the heck was going on.

“Murdered deads live in storms without season, in time without flux. We do not go because people do not let us go.”

Overall, The Girl from the Well is a great addition to any horror reading list for readers not afraid of the on-page violence. I didn’t particularly enjoy the ending, but I’ve heard the second book The Suffering is better than this one and I look forward to picking it up. Basically, I’m kind of annoyed with myself for taking literally years before reading this book after buying it.

Representation: Asian characters and partially set in Japan
Content warnings: body horror, child death, gore, graphic depictions of death and dead bodies, mentions of rape and sexual assault, murder, mutilation

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Are you a fan of Japanese horror? Have you read The Girl from the Well yet or is it on your TBR?

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8 Comments

  1. Tasya @ The Literary Huntress

    October 20, 2020 at 1:15 AM

    Great review, Kal! I really enjoyed this book and one of the cause is probably Okiku’s detachment. It adds to the uneasiness and atmosphere while reading.

    1. Kal

      October 28, 2020 at 11:18 AM

      Thank you Tasya! Honestly, upon further reflection I agree with you – I appreciate Okiku’s attachment a lot and it definitely contributed to the creepiness of the book for me. Sure, I wasn’t super connected to the characters as a result, but that didn’t necessarily lessen my reading experience?

  2. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    October 20, 2020 at 6:25 AM

    This is one of those books I regret not reading when it came out. I mean I know I can still go back and read it, but its harder now to go back and read older books. I’m glad it was suitably creepy!

    1. Kal

      October 28, 2020 at 11:19 AM

      I know what you mean. I feel like I prioritize the newer books a lot, and tell myself it’s acceptable because I try to buy the books at least & give the authors some coin. But it is nice to dive into older stories, and this was a creepy gem!

  3. Meghan

    October 20, 2020 at 1:40 PM

    I enjoyed reading your review. You made a really good point about the characters and the narration in this novel; I too, found it hard to get into this novel, but I enjoyed it. I was so happy I bought the sequel before even reading this one because the second book was so so good! I hope you love it! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it 😊

    1. Kal

      October 28, 2020 at 11:23 AM

      Thank you for your comment, Meghan. I am really glad to hear you enjoyed the second book so much, I plan on reading it sometime soon because so many people say it’s even better.

  4. Deynne

    October 20, 2020 at 10:08 PM

    Always a great review, Kal! I think I would devour The Girl from the Well at the best pace especially with this spooky season. I hope I can review it as much as you did!

    1. Kal

      October 28, 2020 at 11:24 AM

      Hi Deynne, thanks for reading my review and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! It’s honestly a perfectly spooky read and the detached narrative voice adds to the atmosphere of unease.

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