Monday, August 11, 2014

REVIEW: THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco




Title: The Girl from the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Genres: YA, Horror, Mystery
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 3/5

SUMMARY

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.




REVIEW

Before you read my review, read the book summary first if you haven’t done so yet.

Alright. I take it you know what the book is about. Are you as intrigued by the book summary as I was? Those who know a little about me know I’m a huge horror fan. I love horror books and horror movies. According to the book summary, The Girl from the Well is pitched as Dexter meets The Grudge. Dexter is undoubtedly one of my many favorite tv shows, and I have watched both Japanese horror movies, The Grudge and The Ring. I enjoyed both (especially the first The Grudge movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar).

I have no idea how this book can be compared to Dexter since he isn’t a vengeful spirit, but I see how certain elements in this story are similar to The Grudge. In fact, I think the main thing about this story that pushed all the wrong buttons with me is that too many elements in this book have been “borrowed” from The Grudge, as well as The Ring.

The second thing which made this book tremendously less enjoyable for me is the narrative. It’s in third person, which isn’t so much a problem for me, but for the first forty percent or so, I wasn’t sure who the narrator was. Only later did I figure out it’s from one point of view, and the entire story is being told by a three-hundred-year-old spirit. I only got used to this form of narrative towards the end of the story. It didn’t exactly endear the characters to me, and instead it made it harder for me to connect, or feel anything, for them. I found it implausible that Okiku, the spirit from whose point of view the story is told, would know what Callie is thinking, feeling, or seeing at any given time. She might be a ghost, but she’s not all-knowing. 

The third issue I had was the writing. I knew I was reading an ARC copy, so I’m not talking about the grammar or formatting. I’m talking about the way it is written with the jumbled thoughts Okiku has which hampers the flow, the sudden changes between scenes, and the counting. What the heck was up with the counting? I understood why the number nine would set her off on a psychopathic rampage, and I’m also sure it was intended as one of Okiku’s quirks, but eventually it became an annoyance.

The aforementioned were the things that didn’t work for me in this book. What warrants it a three-star rating is that I liked the idea behind the story, even though much was borrowed from the two previously mentioned movies. The ending was also absolutely perfect. The idea of a vengeful spirit becoming...less vengeful, and avenging her death in a somewhat moral manner, is a concept I feel is new and original (maybe that’s the comparison to the tv series, Dexter). Out of all the characters, Okiku was the only one for which I felt sympathy, as well as gratitude when she played hero. I didn’t care about any of the other characters, but this was mainly due to the writing.

I was hoping this book would scare the bejeesus out of me, that’s why I requested it for review. But, alas, it failed to do so. If I hadn’t seen the above two movies several times, The Girl from the Well would’ve had me sleeping with the lights on. The horror scenes and exorcism was written really well. The descriptions of Okiku in her vengeful form, and the other evil spirit inhabiting Tark’s body (the boy with the many strange tattoos), were also done extremely well, even though they are described as looking exactly like the characters in The Grudge and The Ring. Because of that, these two spirits didn’t faze me at all, and the horror element in this book was lost for me. But, if you’re not so much into the horror genre, and you just want a quick read to send chills down your spine, you’ll certainly love this book. There are evil spirits, a lunatic trying to kill her child, freaky dolls, Japanese lore, and an exorcism that will assure you a week’s worth of nightmares. If you’re a hardcore horror fan, though, this wouldn’t be the book I’d recommend for you.




  


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ABOUT the AUTHOR


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. Dances like the neighbors are watching.



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