Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco





ARC provided by Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley

TW: murder, mentions of rape

I don't own a TV. 
Yeah, I know you're expecting me to go down the usual pretentious, "I don't own a TV, because books are the superior form of blah blah blah" but the truth is I don't own one because I am so crazy that after I watched The Ring I had to get rid of my TV. 
There will be NO creepy kids climbing out of a well and into my house!

So when I got approved for this ARC I went, "Oh no, Isa. What have you done?"

I decided to be a big girl and just read it. Here's how The Girl From the Well starts:
"I am where dead children go."
above: an accurate representation of my reaction

I bravely read on and it gets worse. And by worse, I mean better, creepier, scarier, and I couldn't phone my mum because it was past 1 a.m., even though after every paragraph I was whispering, "I want my mother."

But onto the plot! 

This is a book inspired by the Japanese ghost story Banchō Sarayashiki.
Okiku, in her own words, "an unavenged spirit, a nothing-more", hunts down murderers of children.

The story starts with one such "man" (if we can even call him that), living unconcerned by the weight of the dead he carries. Literally. The girl he murdered, bloated and decaying, has her "thin bony arms clasped about his neck, (...) her legs balanced against the small of his back.

He cannot see the girl he murdered, nor can he see the dead girl who has come for him that night. But both girls can see each other and, in silent understanding, they both know that the man will soon see no one ever again.


Okiku exists in a dreamless, wandering state, she observes life, she counts things. Just as she has for hundreds of years...
Until a tattooed boy crosses her path. A boy with something "strange and malevolent hiding inside him". 

Though Okiku is mostly a non-entity, it was very easy to sympathise with her.
Tarquin/Tark (what an unfortunate name, hopefully there is no Lucretia around) was a bit slower to become likable but, once everything he went through is known, you can't help but feel for him. 
Tark's cousin, Callie, was the one looking for all the answers to the mystery that haunts her family, she was very easy to like.
My favourite character, however, has to be Sandra, the little girl who could see the spirits, and was probably creepier than all of them put together...

There is an abundance of creepy children in this book, both dead and living - personally that's the horror element that gets to me the most. Followed by creepy dolls - which also make an appearance - and unrestful spirits trailing the living. 
There are many common horror elements in this book: evil spirits, insane asylums, creepy dolls, murderers, creepy children - but the writing is so skilful none of these read as clichés. 

The writing is beautiful. Descriptive in a poetic way, which just makes everything even creepier. It achieves the perfect balance of saying just enough by meandering through a series of highly sensorial observations, and then leaving terrible things implied and unsaid, which is extremely unsettling and the best approach when it comes to this genre.

I think this is Rin Chupeco's first book? If so... I don't even know how to properly praise her, but she has to be one of the most talented writers to be published recently, and I wish her all the success in the world.

Seriously, anyone who follows my reviews knows I'm tremendously difficult to please, but Chupeco's writing - be it characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot - is amazing. 
May this book be the first of many more!

I'd also like to personally blame Rin Chupeco for making sure I'll never set foot in my attic again. 



 
Rin Chupeco's official site

Buy The Girl From The Well
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

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