The Girl from the Well

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

published on  August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Young Adult | paranormal | retellings

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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.

REVIEW
Let’s get one fact straight: I am a huge wuss. I hide behind pillows during horror movies and force people to come with me when I walk into dark rooms. I am freaking scared of dolls. Those Barbies I collected as a kid? I want to throw them all out the window. But after reading my first horror book, Anna Dressed in Blood, I thought I wasn’t going to be as scared. Well, ha ha to myself.

That was my reaction throughout the book. I was happily enticed by all the mythology and Japanese history, and then… BAM! Something creepy comes along and just makes me have a mini heart attack.

So non-horror peeps, step aside. This book might make you pee in your pants.

The first thing I need to warn you about, horror aside, is that Chupeco’s writing isn’t average. It isn’t the “lyrical” or “poetic” writing that some authors go for. This one is… edgier. It would definitely depend on the reader’s preferences, but personally, I thought Chupeco’s writing added to the overall creep-factor of the book. And it’s both in third and first person, if I remember correctly.

“Even then I found the word fitting, soothing.
Fireflies.
Fire flies.
Fire, fly.”

Creepy, no? That snippet gives me the chills. Am I the only one picturing a Japanese ghost saying that with a wicked smile?

I didn’t know a lot about Japanese horror stories going into this book, and I absolutely loved learning about them and possibly scarring myself for life. The Girl from the Well is the story of a ghost and a boy. Thinking of a love story? Well then you’re absolutely wrong. There is nothing lovely and endearing about this story. It’s all blood, gore and shocking revelations.

All of the scenes were so bloody and graphic. Horrific. I mean, apparently murder victims are tied to their murderers until Okiku (our ghost) sets them free through a very traumatizing process. This ghost hangs on the ceiling making gurgling sounds, for crying out loud. Okiku is such a strong and vengeful girl, but she does have good intentions most of the time.

Tark is our boy. I’ll admit, most of the time he came off as immature to me (nothing he did was immature, per se, but his voice was just a bit off). I found it hard to like him at first, but I guess I loosened up by the end and was completely okay with him. He’s definitely in a rough situation, and it was nice to see how he tried to stay strong through it.

I do have the tiniest complaint about the plot, though. It seemed like the whole thing with Tark was just too extravagant. I did like the creepy doll ceremonies (well, I didn’t like them, but they creeped me out, so that’s good) and all the rituals they performed, but the actual problem was really weird for me.

*minor spoiler*

Scared of possible favorite characters getting killed off? Well, Chupeco does this in a way that’s like ripping a band aid off quickly and with force. One minute they’re helping out, and in the next… bye bye.

*end minor spoiler*

Anyway, if you’re feeling brave and would like to try out a very well-written and well-crafted horror story, be sure to give this one a shot. And leave the lights on.

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Skulls 3.5

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Liked this review? You also find it on Goodreads.

About Aimee

Aimee loves being a little bookworm (okay–she doesn’t like being little). She also loves chocolates and sweets but is freaked out by the thought of possibly getting diabetes.

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46 thoughts on “Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

  1. Everyone seems to be reading this one and I can’t help but check it out for myself! I’m a fan of horror, but then I regret it immediately afterwards. Especially at night…when I have to pee. I have yet to find a book that REALLY scares the crap out of me though, so maybe I’ll give this a go…and regret it later :P

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    1. Bahaha! Same here! I try to avoid horror movies at all costs, but horror novels intrigue me a lot. And then I can’t sleep straight. T_T Have fun with this one, Joy! ;) And welcome back. :D

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  2. WHY IS EVERYONE SUDDENLY READING THIS ONE? LOL –no but serouisly I’ve heard five different reviews for this one and their ratings are all drastically different. I don’t typically read horror (I don’t consider myself a wuss, it just takes a LOT to scare me and I feel like horror books don’t manage to fully scare me) but now I don’t know.

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    1. I read it a few months ago and just reviewed it since it just released! :D Ack, this one has been getting mixed reviews. It’s probably the writing. Anyway, I’m a huge scared-y cat, so that’s probably one reason this creeped me out so much!

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  3. ME TOOOO!!! Mara Dyer is where my horror journey starts and ends. I’m such a big scared baby. I don’t like horror *runs away* Ha! I like the writing, but I don’t know if I’d be able to read the whole book like that, you know? Well, I’m not going to since horror. Ew. But I’m glad that you enjoyed the Japanese legends part. I love mythology and Japanese mythology is one of the most fascinating ones. Legends and all that? YES PLEASE. O_______________O the kill though? wut? oooops. I’m glad you enjoyed this one as a whole, Aimee :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gah! I can’t watch horror movies. I didn’t even watch the book trailer for this one, because I just clicked play and then turned it off when some stuff showed up! xD Anywayyy, this one definitely isn’t for the light of heart.

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  4. Well, I’m not a scaredy cat.*snort* THAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST FAT LIE I’VE EVER SAID. OR TYPED. I remember that conversation that took place in hangouts. LOL, remember?

    Anyway, this book is getting mixed reviews :( I’ve seen glowing ones and not-so-glowing reviews as well. I like that you’re kind of in the middle. I might read this. AND I WILL LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON. THANK YOU FOR THAT TIP, Aimee!

    Paula M. @ Her Book Thoughts!

    P.S: WordPress hates me so much, idk whyyyy. That’s why I’m using twitter :p

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    1. Hahaha! That was horrible! xD

      Like I said, it’s probably the love/hate type of writing. It depends on the reader. >_< Hopefully you'll like it, Paula! :)

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  5. I cannot wait for this book! I’m a bit of a horror-buff, and I just think this book is right up my alley. Thank you for the fantastic review! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it despite the creep factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So you’re that friend that begs(read: threatens) people to come with you whenever you go to the bathroom/halls etc. I’m usually the person they ask because I’m brave (read: less scared) and it’s actually a pain in the behind but I always obliged because I like scaring people. Mwahaha.

    Anyway, pant-peeing is what I want my horror book to be! That snippet of Chupeco’s writing is love. Chilly yet lovely. Obviously, I would read this when it’s light out. I’m cheap that way. XD Fantastic review, Aimee!

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  7. I was thoroughly creeped out by this one as well Aimee! And the unusual writing style and formatting definitely added to the overall eerie feel. I’m having trouble looking in mirrors now for fear I’ll see something moving that isn’t my reflection:) I agree with you on Tark, I wasn’t overly attached to him throughout, but I liked him well enough in the end. Lovely review!

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  8. ooh, this sounds like my type of read. the blurb is sounds creepy and how you describe it makes my stand on reading it stronger.. I love horror and the connection to Japan makes me want it more! Great review!

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  9. The horror side was the only thing keeping me reading it. Otherwise I would’ve left it, but damn it was creepy. And scary. And just vivid and just RUN. The writing style did annoy me at times, but agree, it did add to the atmosphere of it, so it set it right. Got to say though, this did beat Anna Dressed in Blood for me (for the creepy, and actually making me freak out- which Anna didn’t). So I loved that, just didn’t like the characters, got nothing from them. :(

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  10. Well as I’m waiting my fave pants I’ll step aside :D No really, I’m a wuss as well and I don’t think I’d dare to read this one. I do love the sound of that writing though. It seems really creepy. Only I’m not sure that it’ll help while reading the book. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this one. Great review, Aimee :)

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  11. Way to creep me out, Aimee!

    This ghost hangs on the ceiling making gurgling sounds, for crying out loud.

    I am definitely creeped out! But I still want to read this. I was declined for this book. I’m a wuss, too, but I try to be brave when it comes to books. So glad you got to read this, Aimee, wuss and all :P

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  12. I typed up a whole lovely comment and it got deleted :[ RIP past lovely comment <33

    So glad you enjoyed this one! I've been seeing a lot of it and that cover totally piqued my interests. There's not a lot of (well done) horror in YA so this one definitely appeals to me. Lol I'm an odd person, I can only handle certain amounts of scariness. Spine tingling? Yes. Bone chilling? Nah. So horror movies are out, and book with more horror elements are in :P Lol I mainly avoid horror movies cause I have nightmares that fall into the completely terrifying category. Alike you though, dolls creep me the fuck out. I mean those eyes O.o I remember being younger and being terrified of sleeping in my grandma's house because her spare room was literally full of porcelain dolls that were all of the place. She was a doll collector. Thank god she eventually hid them when she realized how much they bothered me. So many eyes though O.o eeeeee

    I feel like I'd enjoy the writing style. I really do find flowery writing to drag on sometimes and really slow down the pacing. I much prefer sharp and to the point writing that you can't help but read. The Japanese myths would also be interesting to me, because alike you I really don't know much about them. They would also undoubtedly creep me out.

    Lovely review Aimee <33 Will definitely be checking this one out

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  13. Haha I love that gif! And I’m the same when it comes to horror movies I can’t watch them, but I Looove me my horror books – I know, weird right? But I think I imagine less scary than in movies to soften the horror bahah. I’ve no idea really. But anyways, I didn’t have a lot of luck with this one. While the gore and horror didn’t other me – I actually found it was pretty grudge like (def Japanese horror story-esque) but the writing was NOT for me! I also agree about it being over the top at times. Great review, muffin!

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  14. Dear, God this sounds amazing!!! I’m such a horror addict, but I’ve never been REALLY TRULY creeped out by a book. This sounds so fascinatingly creepy!
    I love the mythology behind things and the names. THE NAMES. It’s all so cool!

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  15. Haaha, I love the baby gif. I’m so terrible at reading horribles!! But sometimes I can’t resist. Surprising, blood and gore doesn’t really bother me, so maybe I can do this book. It’s the reaaaallly creepy ghost kinda stuff that freaks me out, haha. Glad to hear this was a well written book! Thanks for the review!

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  16. It’s always annoying when YA is categorized under the horror genre simply because it has one or two moderately scary scenes; or perhaps some ghosts or goblins. I’m so glad to hear that this didn’t shy away from the gruesome details though! :D

    I think the idea of it being set in both America and Japan is really intriguing. I’m not familiar with Japanese culture either, so to get to learn so much more about their culture sounds really promising and interesting.

    I’m definitely going to give this a try because it sounds really promising! :D Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

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  17. Oh my gosh thank goodness I didn’t pick this one up. I’m not a horror person AT ALL, but here and there I can handle a book or two. But wow, definitely glad I passed this one up. I think I would’ve been up all night reading it and then jumping at sudden movement, sound, etc. Great review though, Aimee!

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  18. I rated this 3.5 too! I love horror and I would read/watch as much as I can (although I would have to read it during the day and I can never watch alone >.<) and although I wasn't scared while reading the book, my imagination got the better out of me once I was lying in bed, alone in my room laye at night lol

    I agree that the author's writing added to the creepfactor and I love Okiku's POV most of all! Welcome to horror Aimee! See, it's not so bad :P haha!

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  19. I loved this one. I loved the very detached writing here and the lack of “it’s” “you’re (instead going for the formal route of It is, you are, etc.). The tone was detached because, hey she IS a 300 year old ghost. And I still can’t get out of my head all the gurgle sounds! EEEEK.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  20. Hehe, I’m totally a scaredy cat myself. I mean, I love horror, but when it comes to watching a horror show alone? I’ll be the first one on the nope train to nope town. Books I can handle, though, thankfully. xD And yayyy, so happy that you found this one enjoyable, albeit a little scary! The horror was a little underwhelming in my opinion, but still much better than all those other YA “horror” stories. Loved the descriptions — they were so creepy.

    And hey, I never actually thought much about the writing style, but now that you pointed it out… I agree — it was definitely unusual in a unique kind of way. I remember that quote too, and I remember just loving every time Chupeco did something like that.

    The lack of a connection I had with the characters was one of the book’s biggest weaknesses. I know I was really confused by Tark: I forgot what age he was a few pages after we met him, so I pictured him as a kind of “bad boy” (since he had those strange tattoos and everything too) and always brooding. Then later on I found out he was only fifteen and that made things… well, weird, lol. (I know, I know, I fail at being a reader. xD) And Callie was too much on the bland side for me to fully relate to her.

    But overall, The Girl from the Well was one of the better YA horrors I’ve read. Seriously, man, the dolls… *shudder* Awesome review, lovely! <3

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  21. I’m so intrigued by this book, but I’m also a wimp when it comes to horror novels, and this one sounds especially horrifying! I can’t even take Japanese horror films, and having this in my head might be worse! I’m glad you did enjoy it though, and it’s great that the author brought the creeps and chills!

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  22. Ahh, I’ve seen this everywhere! Yet another book that I need to read. It’s great to hear that you’re sort of a wuss when it comes to horror because I am too. I’m slowly making my way through Supernatural. With the lights on. SLOWLY.

    Anyway, I’ve heard such great things about this book, and it’s definitely near the top of my TBR too. Thanks for the great review :)

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs

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  23. Ah, I’m currently reading The Girl From the Well, and I am in total agreement with you. THIS BOOK IS SO CREEPY. The book has headless birds crashing through windows and littering the floor O_O And I think the writing really enhances the creepiness, the way Okiku tells everything from her point of view, but also seems to be all-knowing, in a way, and so tells things from other characters’ point of view. And the way sentences are cut off and finished in the next line… It’s just perfect and creepy. Rin Chupeco is very good with her words.

    “Thinking of a love story? Well then you’re absolutely wrong.” _< Oh, and Tark! I am really liking his character. I haven't really found him to be immature yet, but I'm only halfway through, so we will see! But yeah, I really like him right now, his dialogue (even if it seems a little too perfect and extravagant at times), his past, and his overall character…. I like it.

    Oh, and Okiku is amazing. She's so tragic and intriguing and mysterious and horrifying! I just want to know more about her… It's funny because I love reading through Japanese horror stories, but I've never come across the one with her in it… At first I thought that she was going to be based off of the lady with the cut-up, grotesque face that would ask you if you thought she was pretty, and no matter what you say to her in reply to the question, she'll kill you (at least that's what I think it was, my memory is bad from sleepiness right now), but I was wrong. After I finish The Girl From the Well, though, I shall go on a search for Okiku's story! Because I love her.

    (I just love tragic people in general, really. I'm a sadist who basks in the pain of fictional characters.)

    Wonderful review!

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  24. I listed this down as one of the books I’m looking forward but now I’m not so sure. The cover got me… but after reading your review, I don’t know if that’s enough to make me read it. I am a complete wuss when it comes to horror. Scary movies give me nightmares and since books make me more imaginative, I’d probably create something way scarier out of this if I ever read it, and then it’ll go straight into my dreams. So no, I have to muster the courage first.

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