The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

the-girl-from-the-wellBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Sourcebooks Fire, 2015
  • Edition, First
  • Description: Hardback, 258 pages ; 21 cm.
  • Interest Level: YA; Lexile Level 940
  • Summary: I am where dead children go.  Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they’re due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still she drifts on. Retrieved from publisher; http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/girl-from-the-well.html
  • ISBN: 978-1-51816-139-1
  • Subjects:
    • Ghosts – Fiction
    • Japanese Mythology – Fiction
    • Family Issues – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: He drowned the little girl with the gap in her teeth whose ghost now clings to him, tethered to him by his crime.  Now I will kill him and she will be free.

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OIeGix-hEw

Plot Summary: When Okiku was alive she was a servant in the house of a handsome Japanese lord whose life she saved from a retainer who plotted his death.  In retaliation for her actions the retainer frames her for breaking a valuable plate and her lord gives him to her to punish and kill.  She is tortured to death and thrown down a well, her spirit seething with rage and a desire for revenge against all who kill innocents.  Hundreds of years later, still exacting vengeance on killers around the world she comes across a boy, Tark who is half Japanese.  She saves him and his cousin Callie from a serial killer but that is only the beginning of her relationship with them.  Both can see her and she forms a relationship with them, drawn to Tark by his pain and fear.  Tark is possessed by a demon which has killed his mother and seeks to fully control him.  His mother had protected him by covering his body with tattoos but they are fading as the demon grows stronger.  Returning to Japan, the three must work together to end Tark’s nightmare or he will die.

Critical Evaluation:  I personally think that Japanese horror and ghost stories are some of the most frightening ones in world literature.  The Kwaidan, a movie version of several of the most famous ghost stories, is an truly frightening experience and is clearly the inspiration of many of the modern Japanese horror movies and this book.  The ghost is a vengeance spirit, murdered unjustly by an evil man but also with the tacit knowledge and approval of someone she loved and respected.  The level of horror in this book and the degree of violence is probably less than many of the movie being made today but it still provides a significant degree of blood and death.  Younger readers might find it a little too creepy but older ones should enjoy the thrill of fear.

The book is written from the point of view of the ghost for the most part but also from a third person perspective focused on Callie who is the American cousin of the cursed boy, Tark.  These two female characters are the focus of the story in that it through them that the boy will be saved.  Overall, this is an interesting look at the stories of another culture and at the role of females in traditional male dominated societies.

Author’s Brief Bio: Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Rin-Chupeco/e/B00IMD8L4O

Genre Designation: Horror

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Japanese Culture
  • Mythology

Book Talk Ideas:  Does revenge make you feel better when someone hurts you?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected.  Japanese culture, mythology and history have been a source of interest for me for many years.  I am very drawn to the ghost stories found in the culture and this book draws heavily on those traditions.

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