THIS is horror. I take back everything I ever said about not liking horror books. The Girl From the Well is amazing. Talk about spine-chilling psychological drama.
We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.
A dead girl walks the streets. Okiko hunts those who hurt children, much like the man who threw her own body down a well, 300 years ago. She punishes them horrifically, as her ghost seeks to free the souls of the children who have been harmed. Only when their death and pain is avenged, and their souls released, can she feel warmth and love, for a scant moment.
A re-telling of a traditional Japanese ghost story, The Girl From the Well keeps the classic elements of empty eyes, white clothing and dangling hands and feet of the yūrei, (the ghost of one who has died in a sudden or violent manner, and has not received proper funeral rites to release the soul), but expands Okiko’s role into that of a hunter. She is able to leave Japan in order to exact retribution.
Okiko is drawn to Tark, a tormented 15 year old boy, scarred not only by his mother’s mental illness, but also by the mystical tattoos that cover his body. He can see the ghost, but he can also see the dark figure that sometimes looks back at him in the mirror, and he lives his life on the edge of anger and pain.
The mystery of the dark woman is what keeps Okiko close to Tark. She knows he will require her help in order to escape the curse he carries. It is not a romance, but there is love and sacrifice.
This story is told from Okiko’s perspective, in both her voice, and in the third person. She is a gentle killer, if such a paradox can exist.
Rin Chupeco is a master at building tension. Each scene is carefully crafted to maximize brain stress. Her writing is gorgeous, poetic in places, edgy in others. Words are not wasted; each serves to build the story, and terror and horrific danger hit in the most unexpected places.
The characters are well written. Tark is a troubled teen, his dad remote and somewhat lost. His cousin Callie, open to helping him, believes his stories of the white and dark women that haunt him.
And once again, the cover got me. It is stark and stunning, and evokes the same emotion as reading the novel.
The Girl From the Well is the first of a two book series. I will read the second, The Suffering, when I can stop checking under my bed at night and can turn off the lights. Locking the doors won’t help you with this one.
It is graphic and gory and is probably best suited for an older teen, or you, if you are brave enough…
The Girl From the Well is published by Sourcebooks Fire.