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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

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Title: The Girl from the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
Pages: 267
More by this author: Firekeeper (forthcoming)


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.

I never imagined I would love a horror novel for it's gorgeous prose and characters, but that's exactly how I feel about Rin Chupeco's The Girl from the Well

The main character, Okiku, is the spirit of a girl murdered three hundred years ago in Japan. Fueled by rage and revenge, she gruesomely rids the world of child killers, torturing them in their final minutes. This side of Okiku is dark and dangerous, reminiscent of characters like the girl from the well in The Ring or The Grudge. Chupeco describes her movements, her ruined body, and her bloodlust in such a way that I kept thinking I was going to see her somewhere in the room - which, let me tell you, is a pretty horrifying thought. 

But there's another side to Okiku as well, a side more closely aligned with the innocent and pretty girl she was before her murder. This side appears to the reader slowly, especially in the company of the strange boy Okiku finds herself drawn to. There is something dark haunting this boy and Okiku, who has been driven only by rage and revenge for so many years, finds herself compelled to help him.

For me, The Girl from the Well was a reminder that horror can be sophisticated. I sometimes I get stuck on the idea of horror as gore and idiotically predictable characters, but Chupeco's novel reminded me of why I loved novels like The Violet Hour and Anna Dressed Blood



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