Monday, July 28, 2014

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

For centuries, Okiku has traveled the world avenging the untimely deaths of children. Okiku is a spirit whose own death was both violent and untimely, but her anger and malevolence has waned and is now under her control. Rather than wreaking unseen havoc and terror, she has a focus and a goal; her vengeance means the release of the young souls she fights to redress. One afternoon, though, Okiku crosses path with a teenager who is still very much alive. His name is Tark and though he still walks among the living, there is something about him that Okiku cannot ignore. 

The Girl From the Well is told from the perspective of a ghost. Okiku's tale - the same ghost who inspired so much J Horror not so very long ago - is a very real ghost story in Japanese folklore. While I always suspected that, for some reason I never looked into it until now. Her story does feature as part of Chupeco's book, however, so I'll leave that for you to discover in the reading.

I liked the narrative style here. Okiku is very detached and unemotional until she meets Tark. Her actual narration evolves to reflect this, moving from very impersonal (referring to Tark and others simply as "the boy" and such) to more personal (Tark as Tark!). Her story is actually just a small part of the overall plot, too. Surprisingly the first third of the book features a kind of astounding amount of action causing me to pretty much barrel through the book in just a few hours. The pacing is quite fast but the introduction of so much intense action early on left me with an undeniable curiosity about where the book would go next. I don't think you could have pried the book from my hands until I was able to see it through to the end! Fortunately it's a bit on the short side and thankfully I didn't start it at midnight.

The Girl From the Well is creepy as all get out. I found it to be way darker than I would have expected for a teen read. Actually, if I'd come across this one as a teen I probably would have been thoroughly freaked and pleased as punch about it, too.

This is, in my opinion, quite an accomplished debut for Rin Chupeco. While not being an overall perfect read, any issues are easy to move past simply because of the unique aspects of the story. It's packed with Japanese folklore the likes of which I personally have never been exposed to before now. It's really fascinating and couched in the context of the book gives the story a depth that would otherwise be sorely missing. And apparently this isn't the last we'll see of Okiku. Chupeco's works in progress page lists a second title in the series as well!

The Girl From the Well actually hits shelves next Tuesday, August 5. If you're a horror fiend I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4/5

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