I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 5th 2014
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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.
Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writhes beneath the moody teen's skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There's just one problem: if the demon dies, so does its host.
You want to get my attention? Compare a book to Dexter. Just, you know, make sure it lives up to that comparison. Unfortunately, it did not. The Girl from the Well is not scary. There are moments of creepy descriptiveness but that does not make a creepy story. Especially when they occur briefly and inconsistently. Like this sort of creepy goodness:
‘Something is rising out of the boy’s back–something with terrible, burning eyes, yet are not quite eyes at all, preserved behind a bloodless, decaying mask that hides its face from the world.’
But as I said, it was far too inconsistent and the rest of what the story contained didn’t make the wait worthwhile. Like the style of writing: First person and then 3rd person omniscient all in one paragraph? Talk about wordy whiplash. But seriously, pick one style of writing and stick with it. And if you were going to change it up, at least make it a different section so the reader doesn’t have to backtrack in order to figure out what the hell is going on. It was unnecessarily confusing. Even if the intent was to make the narrator seem all crazed seeming since she’s a deranged ghost, it still didn’t work for me.
Speaking of the deranged ghost. Not only is she deranged but she’s got an obsession with numbers and proceeds to spend the entire novel counting shit. Counting plates. And people. And seconds of silence. Girl needs to get herself a hobby.
‘I spend the rest of the day counting. There are two janitors roaming the school grounds. There are sixteen rooms in the building. There are thirty students in the tattooed boy’s class […]’
It wasn’t thrilling to read about I’ll tell you that much. And then we find out about her obvious dislike for a particular number.
‘Seven, eight. Nine. Nine. Nine bulbs, all bearing strange little fireflies. […] No nines. Not-nine. Never nine.’
So creepy chick doesn’t care for the number nine. Ten is totally cool and her absolute favorite but number nine makes her go all Limp Bizkit on shit. Honestly, since we have no idea the reasoning behind her dislike of the number nine those passages end up being funnier than I think was intended.
As far as other characters go, we’ve got Tark whose mother is in a mental institution after she tattooed him when he was a young child. Pretty nuts and I’d be more likely to feel bad for the guy if he wasn’t such a pretentious poser full o’ emo thoughts who goes around being snooty to everyone because he’s full of angsty goodness. He sees things too but naturally worries about being thrown in with dear old mom.
“And then my mom had to… well, she went bonkers, excuse the political correctness.”
This kid is 15. No 15 year old is going to mention political correctness, or even give a shit about it. He would say mature stuff like that and then turn around and act like a complete moron the next.
“What is it about me that she hates so much, that she can’t even stand the sight of me?”
Well, gee, let’s think about this. Your mother doesn’t get all crazy until she sees you, screaming to ‘get away from him’. So clearly she’s not talking to you. You know there’s this creepy girl in a mask that follows you, staring at you, that you can only see in a mirror. Golly, could she be seeing her too? By Jove! I think we’re on to something!
Bottom line: this could have been a creepy tale of ghosts that hunt down child murderers. It was unfortunately brought down by unnecessary side stories, a horribly jarring writing style, and terribly dull one-dimensional characters.