Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Girl from the Well

I've been reading a lot of scary books this summer and I'm a sucker for anything from Japan, so The Girl from the Well was made for me. If you enjoyed the movies "The Grudge" or "The Ring", you will love this horror story, based on the legend of Okiku, a peasant girl who was drowned in a well by her traitorous lord.

In the novel, the ghost has spent 300 years roaming the earth, making murderers pay for killing children. Tark, a boy with strange tattoos catches her eye and she is drawn to him and the evil ghost that is trapped inside him. She has to get him back to his mother's ancestral land in Japan before the spirit destroys him. Unfortunately, it's not easy to trust a terrifying ghost who looks like she drowned and spends her time hanging upside down from the ceiling.

I highly recommend this book, although you have to push through the first 30 pages. Even though they described Okiku's gruesome revenge on a killer, it wasn't gripping. Once Tark got introduced, I was all in and read the book in one afternoon. It takes awhile to get accustomed to the narration. Okiku speaks with the voice of someone who has been removed from people for a long time, so she often doesn't use names or the proper words for modern objects. There were a few grammar errors that I imagine were more due to the fact that I read an ARC from NetGalley than an author's choice.

There were scenes that genuinely scared me; anything that involves mirrors freaks me out and there were several frightening exorcisms. The callous ways that the murderers treat their victims was most disturbing (I'm thinking of a scene with wannabe yakuza high school boys). Mature eighth graders could handle the novel, but I would recommend it more for high school students and adults who like spooky YA fiction.

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