I loved the Ring. I loved the Grudge. I love Asian horror movies, because not only does it have screams but it doesn’t always rely on gore to sell a scary scene. Not that I get scared, of course, but I love the feeling you get after when you’re looking around and wondering if something just might pop out and say, “gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” That’s the sound Sadako from the Grudge makes, in case you were wondering.
So when I heard about the Girl from the Well, I was super excited to get my hands on it and read. There’s not a lot of YA fiction like this and I was looking for something new. I think this helped make me like the book a lot more than others, because it was so different to what I’m use to. That doesn’t mean it’s the best book, because there are problems here, but it’s different and I enjoyed my time reading it.
The Girl from the Well is a ghost story about Okiku, a vengeful ghost from Japan who kills people who hurts children. One day, while looking for her next target, she sees a boy no more than 15 named Tarquin, aka Tark. For some reason she feels drawn to him and soon enough we find out why. Tark has a spirit trapped inside of him. The spirit is vengeful, out for blood, and wants nothing more than to take over the boy’s body and make it her own.
If I was an evil spirit, I might do the same thing. I mean, it’s what they do.
Tark, along with his cousin Callie, try to get rid of the spirit without killing him in the process. While they do this, Okiku is there to provide commentary and a helping hand when needed.
Is this book scary?
To me, not really, but then again I don’t get scared easily so I don’t know if I’m a good judge for this. I did enjoy reading the scary scenes and watching Okiku take down the bad guys. It was reminiscent of Asian horror movies, so I enjoyed it. The way she took out the enemies of child was gruesome, but fitting for a vengeful ghost.
I mean, if I was a vengeful ghost with time to kill, I might be inclined to do the same thing. Like before, it’s what they do.
One thing I absolutely loved was that there was no romance. That might sound weird, but after reading stories where the romance took over or love triangles and what have you, it was really refreshing to see a book forgo that and just have the story. Tark did develop a bond with Okiku and they did start to care for one another, but it was nothing more than friends and I appreciated that. For it to turn into a romance or anything would have hurt the story, so I’m really glad that it wasn’t there.
The writing style, unfortunately, is the only downside to this wonderful novel. The book is written in Okiku’s voice, which is why it’s in first person, but there were times when it would go into third person without any sort of notice. Once you get use to that, it switches back to first person and Okiku takes over once again. This happens more than once and each time it left me confused. There were scenes when Callie would notice Okiku and instead of saying something like, “Callie turned and noticed me standing on the ceiling…” It would say, “Callie turned and noticed the girl in white standing on the ceiling…” (Neither of these are taken from the book, it’s simply an example of what I was talking about).
For me, this didn’t really work. You do get use to it after awhile, but I never really liked these sudden shifts in view. Okiku is a bystander and watches a lot of stuff that happens, but I don’t understand why we kept switching from first to third to first again, if she’s meant to be the narrator for everything.
Some of the characters also did feel a bit underdeveloped, but the ones who were meant to be the stars, or had important roles, did have some depth to them. I kind of wish Tark’s dad was more available, but his absence did make sense since he’s a single dad with a stressful job.
Overall: Other than the writing style, I did like a lot of stuff about this novel. I did find that despite this being a story about Okiku and Tark, it’s mostly Callie that takes center stage and steals the scene whenever she shows up. There were times when things were a bit convenient and clichéd, but I think because The Girl from the Well is so different from other YA books out there that it’s just felt refreshing to read.
Giveaway is now Closed:
I really liked this, which is why I’m happy to announce that SourceBooks is giving a lucky reader a chance to win a copy of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. If you are from the US and Canada, then all you need to do is comment below with your name and you’ll be entered to win
The Girl from the Well was provided by netgalley
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