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