Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl from the Well

The Girl from the Well

“It is not in my nature to be interested in the living. But there are many things, I have found, that defy nature.”

TITLE & AUTHOR: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

SERIES: The Girl from the Well, #1

GENRE: YA/Horror/Paranormal/Fantasy

PUBLISHED : August 5th 2014, by Sourcebooks Fire




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 first heard of Rin Chupeco through her Bone Witch series which I haven’t read yet, but many of my blog friends have, and they loved it. So that would have been my first Chupeco read, but the Dragons & Tea Book Club buddy read this one last year in October and I had to join in. I’m glad I did because this was such a great read for me!

I’m not as much interested in YA anymore, so I’m really picky when it comes to this genre (Age group?). I will read a YA novel these days only if I’m familiar with the author, or if the plot grips me on the first glance. With The Girl from the Well it was the latter, because I LOVE Japanese culture, especially the legends, myths and folklore, and I love reading horror, especially around Halloween. And, this novel is written from a Yurei’s POV. A Yurei is a Japanese version of a ghost, though it is almost always a ghost of a person who died a violent death, and it’s usually female. A revenge ghost. A famous Yurei in pop culture is the one from the movie The Grudge, and the most accurate version in my opinion shows up in the second season of The Terror series (Which you should watch now.)

The Girl from the Well is narrated by a Yurei who we soon find out is murdering child killers. Nice. That plot intertwines with the one of Tark, a teenage boy who just moved to a new city with his father. Tark has some serious PTSD which might or might not be related to the schizophrenic outbursts of his mother. On the one hand, he loves and misses his mother, but on the other he dreads the visits to the hospital because somehow, Yoko’s aggressive behavior seems to be focused solely on her son.

Now if that wasn’t enough, Tark starts seeing a terrifying lady wherever he goes. He’s legitimately scared, and not just because of a Yurei hanging upside-down in his room, but also because he starts questioning his own sanity in the wake of these apparitions. Is he getting sick, just like his mother? Or, is his mother actually sick? In search of answers, Tark and his family wind up in Japan, in Yoko’s native village, where all the secrets start to unravel.

To be honest, I was kind of already obsessed with Yurei once I stumbled upon this novel. I was watching The Terror: Infamy just then, and I was also researching Japanese ghosts because of Mab’s Drawlloween Club. So, I may be a bit biased, but if you’re generally a fan of scary ghost stories, you’ll love this one. Unlike western ghost stories, the Japanese ones are a lot more scarier and aggressive, especially when talking about revenge ghosts, but you should already know this if you watched movies like The Ring or The Grudge, and if you’re fan of those you’ll love this novel.

The Yurei’s storyline was more interesting than Tark’s but I loved both of them, before they meet. The former one is much darker and I’m wondering if the book should be labeled YA because of it. When we talk of child murderers, you know there’s pedophilia involved, even though this novel isn’t explicit in that way, things are only implied. Also, true crime fans will be interested to read an event eerily similar to one of the most infamous murders in Japan’s history.

I loved the characters and Chupeco’s writing, and I look forward to reading both the sequel and Chupeco’s other novels. I’d recommend The Girl from the Well to the horror, paranormal and Japanese folklore fans, though I’d warn you of its relatively graphic nature. Even though this novel has a teenage character at its center and it’s classified as YA, I’d say it’s too disturbing for a younger teenager, and even some adults.

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Rin ChupecoErin “Rin” Chupeco is a Chinese Filipino writer of young adult fiction, best known for her The Bone Witch and The Girl from the Well series. Prior to becoming an author, Chupeco worked as a graphic designer. She is married and lives with her husband and two children in Manila. Chupeco’s works often draw inspiration from Asian cultures.




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