By Rin Chupeco
Available now from Sourcebooks Fire
Rin Chupeco's debut novel THE GIRL FROM THE WELL brings a Japanese ghost story into the present. Chupeco has clearly paid attention to the success of J-horror, because the atmosphere is dead on.
Much of the book is told through the point of view of Okiku, a spirit who travels upside down because that is how she died and doesn't like the number nine. She travels about punishing men who hurt children. Then she is drawn to Tarquin, called Tark, a boy on the cusp of manhood with rather strange tattoos. It turns out that those tattoos imprison another spirit, a darker spirit, and Okiku's attention might be all that can save Tark.
THE GIRL FROM THE WELL does quite a bit of head hopping, which can be slightly disorienting. It works in the book's favor, however; this is a story where strange things happen and putting together the pieces opens the characters up to the darkness in the world. There are many unpleasant deaths in THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, and some of them are deserved.
There are three main characters: Okiku, Tark, and Callie (his cousin). I liked Callie's growing importance in the novel, because her point of view is very down to earth even when she starts to see spirits. And I loved the relationship between Okiku and Tark, two people who can barely communicate but still come to understand each other. It's intense, not quite a romance nor a friendship, and an intriguing counterpoint to the straightforward designated love interest relationships found in many horror novels.
I devoured THE GIRL IN THE WELL. The plot is somewhat vague at times, but the atmosphere always carries it through. There are some genuine moments of horror, which I always appreciate in a scary story. And I absolutely loved the ending. It wrapped things up in a bow I would love to unravel. If this is Chupeco's debut, I look forward to what she does next.