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Tark has lived most of his life in a state of fear. When he was very young, his mother tried to kill him. She has since been institutionalized but there has never been any explanation for her actions. Nor has there ever been any explanation for the tattoos she adorned him with when he was a small boy.

Okiku is a spirit whose sole purpose has become avenging the deaths of children. And while Tark isn’t a victim yet, there’s something about him that fascinates the ghost. Something that draws the dark and malevolent to the boy. Something only Okiku can protect him from.

Rin Chupeco’s debut is a little hard to sum up in a nutshell. There’s a lot going on. The main character here is Okiku, of the legend “Okiku and the Nine Plates” – the same legend that inspired The Ring and many other horror films. She is a vengeful spirit who becomes drawn to Tark for reasons even she doesn’t quite understand and ends up vowing to protect him. Interestingly, the story is told from Okiku’s point of view, which is just the first thing that makes The Girl From the Well a pretty stand out read.

Tark is a very special boy indeed and his problems extend well beyond that of an ordinary teen. As his story unfolds, he and his family end up traveling to Japan where eventually the truth behind his mother’s madness is explained.

Chupeco’s use of Japanese folklore elevates this story beyond much of the usual horror fare. Okiku alone would have made The Girl From the Well reminiscent of The Ring, The Grudge, etc but she’s really just the tip of the iceberg. All in all I found Chupeco’s first outing to be frightening and enthralling.

8/14 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco. Sourcebooks Fire (August 5, 2014). ISBN 978-1402292187. 272p.

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