The Girl from the Well
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, YA
Publication date: 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.
The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.
-A copy was provided by Sourcebooks Fire for review-
Even with the great premise and creepy as heck scenes throughout, I can’t say I liked this one much, unfortunately. Though this is all due to the writing, and if you’re a fan of it you will have a much better experience with this book than I.
The writing is one that, although may work for some, I could never get used to. The narrative voices (plural because I “think” there were more than 1, but I’m not 100% sure…) are in 3rd person which is always harder for me to connect with regardless, but in this case even more so because of this particular all-knowing perspective the author adopts. Then when you add in the fact that the perspective changes – often abruptly without a chapter change or even a break in-between paragraphs – the result made me feel rather disjointed. I was not a big fan of the “quirks” in the writing, either. The ghost’s counting and jumbled thought process was likely meant to give the book some personality and character, but all it amounted to was getting me annoyed. The counting could be especially distracting:
He parks his white car at one corner of the street, and strolls toward where the crowd of people (fifty- seven) have gathered, watching in fascination as medical personnel (four) wheel out a large gurney that carries something (one) large and bulky, hidden from view by a large black blanket.
Then there’s the Japanese terms throughout that only come with brief explanations that we’re expected to remember for future references. Well, I did not, so a lot of the folklore mumbo jumbo went over my head. Also, and this is likely only in the ARC, but the formatting was off at times where sentences would be cut in 2-3 lines (even the print ARC). At least, I’m hoping it was a formating glitch and not intentional.. Obviously, the writing overall did not make a fan out of me.
Likely related as well, but the characters also failed to compel me. I quickly grew bored with almost every character we met to the exception of Tark’s mom, who was kind of fascinating, if a bit creepy. Tark himself, though, I had a hard time even grasping his personality. I don’t feel I got to know him at all; he was simply a player in this game – a piece of the puzzle – and nothing more. Callie was a bit easier to read, but she still felt underdeveloped. The ghost girl was the most defined. I at least felt sympathy towards her situation and like I understood her, and I was definitely rooting for her when she went all Grudge-like – even if it was terrifying (and awesome!).
The one thing Chupeco did write to my liking were the horror scenes. These were terrifying and so vivid I wanted to sleep with the light on afterwards. It also has its fair share of gore. Not overwhelmingly so, but enough to let you know this was no child’s book. Like I mentioned, the premise of this story is excellent for horror fans. It’s a mix between The Ring, The Grudge, and Dexter – quite a mash-up but it works. As a purely horror tale this book does a pretty good job of being horrific, leaving us with eerie mental images to disturb our sleep.
If I could have gotten used to the writing style, and If we had flown more smoothly between the perspectives, or even the story lines (we’d go from Tark’s story to the ghost’s killing spree in a quick jerk), I would have definitely loved this one. But as it lay, I could not, for the life of me, immerse myself fully in this book. I loved the horror scenes, but everything else became a chore to read as I grew more and more bored of these characters. When you don’t care who lives or dies, a horror book ends up being quite lifeless. If you want to try it out, you should know by chapter 3 if the writing is for you or not.