The Girl from the Well, by Rin Chupeco (Aug 2014, Sourcebooks), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1402292187
Recommended for ages 13+
Okiku is an avenging spirit – the restless ghost of a young girl betrayed and murdered long ago. She stalks child murderers and strikes without mercy, without pity, and releases the innocent souls held prisoner by their killers, watching them turn into fireflies as they finally know peace. She can never join them; her restless, agitated soul cannot find the peace she seeks. And then, Tarquin comes into her… well, afterlife.
Tarquin, or Tark, for short, is a teen with some baggage. His mother had him tattooed at the age of 5, something he tries desperately to hide from curious eyes. She’s locked away in a mental hospital and Tark’s father, a businessman always on the go, is raising him as best he can. Strange things have followed Tark his whole life – birds smashing into windows around him, accidents happening to kids around him, and even more terrifying, his own mother trying to kill him whenever he comes near her. Okiku sees Tark for the good kid that he is, but she also sees the terrifying spirit attached to the boy – and decides, for the first time, to reach out to him and help.
Anyone familiar with the Japanese horror movie, Ringu – or its American counterpart, The Ring – will have a strong idea of what this book is about. Japanese folklore and J-horror are both strong influences on this story, and will appeal to fans of both. There’s a strong story here, multilayered with a major plot and two subplots that the author weaves together to give readers an unsettling, creepy read.
I got a kick out of Tark. He battles the chaos around him with sarcasm and wisecracks. He does his best to keep the reality of his situation from his father, who really wouldn’t understand, no matter how much he loves his son and tries to be an involved dad. Okiku is a tragic figure, yet her anger and her strength make her a force to be reckoned with – you may feel for the circumstances that brought Okiku to where she is, but you will never pity her.
There are some disturbing things happening here, including depictions of sexual abuse and murder, so easily triggered or upset readers should seek their thrills elsewhere.