Author: Rin Chupeco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: Myth-mix, Fantasy/pnr/everything untoward, fairy tale and/or retelling
I’m one of those people who are frustratingly immune to women with gnarled, be-twigged, long hair(maybe because I wear the short version); yet play a face screaming so wide, jaws opened like a hippopotamus and a sound system to bloody my bloody eardrums, if the shock doesn’t give me a heart attack, and pride lets me, I’ll be out like the fucking roadrunner. Traditional horror movies fall basically in either of the two categories and if there’s one thing I can say with certainty about The Girl From The Well, it’s that it’d make a brilliant, traditional horror movie of the former kind, right there with your bulbs bursting, light flickering, long, unwashed hair, wells and dolls.
(I think there’s hope for me yet in the former category.)
And obviously, the good ghost in white, the bad ghost in black and curse curses cursed pure souls.
Okiku is our omniscient, spectral, avenging ghost from the myths of old, who preys on those who harm kids, for remains her forte. She has been around, and hunting, for over three hundred years. As I said, she is an omniscient terror, who knows all about everything that’s being said, thought, and acted upon. Often times, when she doesn’t interject with her own opinions and actions(which she isn’t fond of doing), the story reads like a third-person POV from multiple characters, including the side ones who happen to be there. Subsequently, she also remains a passive presence for a whole lot of the story. In especial, when killing isn’t involved, she’s kapoosh!
In the beginning, however, before she gets relatively enmeshed in the mortal going-ons of the Halloways and Takedas, she does relay to us all things fleetingly bright, eternally gloomy and sporadically action-filled about her existence. And erm… it’s fucking dramatic at times-enough that I almost left it at page 32.(The threat of Okiku feeling slighted convinced me otherwise. You don’t slight Okiku.)
If I were so inclined to me up a list of top ten ghosts that scare me the most in an abstract sense, Okiku would hover somewhere around 4 or above. By my jewels that I will discover in a nest of space hornets somewhere in aussie land, she can be fucking scary with her nine plates, which in turn begets in me a perverse kind of affection for her. So, it is with a deep sense of satisfaction that I admit Rin Chupeco pays an admirable homage to her. Glad to see she’ll never fire-fly away into the peaceful unknowns!
The blurb suggests that it’s Okiku’s story, and that it most definitely isn’t. The story starts in a little shrine in Japan and follows a boy into his teenage years in the US, where his tattoos attract the attention of Okiku.
Tarquin and Callie are the main characters of the story, besides the obvious Okiku. Tarquin’s led a heavy fucking life, what with an institutionalized mother who keeps trying to kill him in her love, tattoos like seals he’s forever had and oh, this masked, decaying ghost-y thing-y who seems to be stuck with him. And there’s the mama bear, caring, suspicious Callie, his cousin, who’s ready to take on the unknown and serial killers for Tarquin.
While they were both characters I could sympathize for, more often than not, Tarquin seemed unfinished. That said, IMO, it was easy to see how he could start to trust and form attachments with Okiku, who herself remain distant, how his personality seems to change over-a-funeral. He turns into this genial, laughing person who accepts things that come along his way. However, it’s Callie who seems to have the most tight portrayal-she hasn’t been inhibited her entire life by ghosts and mothers like Tarquin has, so while she accepts Okiku into their lives and mission, she remains mistrusting as ever of the latter’s intentions because hello? a fucking ghost who helps for no reason you can fathom.
On the other hand, various other characters, like Kagura and the obasaan left a lot to be desired. Frankly, they seemed half-assed characters and the entire thread of story that’s introduced along with them, seems very rote, clockwork and straight-forward.
Also, these character-minus Callie and Tarquin’s father, have a habit of skipping into monologues that are fucking tedious and entirely too polished to accept as people talking, discussing and explaining ghostly matters.
Like a precious other books(Don’t You Forget About Me in particular), The Girl from the Well ends on a note and famous last words that I just fucking love so, so, so much that for a moment there, I was enticed to give it four stars. In case you didn’t know, I love a book that might be mediocre throughout but manages to end on words that complement my personality(as perceived by because duh!). For a few minutes, that is.
So yeah, that’s about it. The Girl from the Well would definitely make a blockbuster hit in the vein of Grudge and whatnot. As a readable story, it’s also not without its own appeal but a lot would hinge on the writing style, and whether one is able to accept a protagonist as unrelated to the plotline as Okiku remains. Personally, it’s the recurrent storyline that didn’t work.
Kudos on the cover. Fucking phenomenal!
Now off me go! FIFA 2006 finale re-run calls me!(Don’t get it wrong, I’m not biggest fan of football and all that, I don’t even know what teams play; I just like making bets, guessing who’ll win, judging costumes and basically getting caught up in the fervor that seems to grip some people.)
(Eh, I missed it. Well then, guess I’ll just have to wait for tomorrow’s match. Rooting for Cameroon, Spain and Chile just because. Until I see their costumes and captains, that is.)
Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Fire!