My New Sleep Paralysis Demon?: A Review of The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
Welcome back Book Nerds! Thanks for joining me once again as we delve into the shelves of my bookcase. I hope you’ve read all the required reading for Spooky Season because I have a review of another one of those books for you today.
Please put your hands together for The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco! Published in 2014, this book is the stuff of my nightmares.
First of all, take a look at that cover. Here, I’ll add it in again to fuel your nightmares.
Yep, I’m terrified. Everything about it screams “no” to me. Like, this ghost is coming to kill me and I’m crying in the corner. This cover may as well feature my sleep paralysis demon. Not what this book is about though.
Before I get to the synopsis, a spoiler alert is in order. A content and trigger warning is also necessary. Please note that The Girl From the Well contains the following: mentions of sexual assault, kidnapping, child murder and harm, and descriptions of bodily harm that may be disturbing for some readers. Aside for the child harm, we won’t be talking about any of those issues in this review. It’s synopsis time now!
The Girl From the Well follows a vengeful spirit known as an Onryuu. In this story, the Onryuu is referred to by her real name, Okiku, so I will be referring to her as such. Now, Okiku is a queen; let me tell you why. Three hundred years prior to the start of the novel, Okiku is tragically murdered. Ever since then, she has wandered the Earth seeking those who have taken the lives of innocent children. Now the thing with Okiku is, she will not stop until these predators are beyond dead.
Yeah, we have a spirit who has one mission: protecting children. And the predators that she goes after don’t get a quick death. She drags these villains to hell and back before they finally succumb. I think we can all agree, we have to stan.
But this book is not simply about Okiku killing people. Nay, nay. Although it is a highlight of this book in my opinion, Okiku stumbles upon a teenaged boy one day. This boy, known as Tark, is covered in mysterious tattoos and has a mysterious, dark energy contained inside of him. This boy needs help, and Okiku may be the only one who can save him.
This book was so good. It was much better than I expected it to be. Full disclosure, a few years ago I tried to get into Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch series but I could not do it. I would basically read a chapter a day because I couldn’t get into it. But The Girl in the Well? Yeah, this one was right up my alley.
Let’s start with the characters. I’m gonna skip talking about Okiku because I’ve already told you how baller she is. She’s a ten-out-of-ten character; what more can I say about her.
There are two other main characters in this story: Tark and Callie. Tark, as mentioned, is a boy in need of saving. Callie is Tark’s cousin who, like Okiku, is also trying to save Tark while playing a sort of surrogate mother to him. Out of the two, I much prefer Tark. He is hella sarcastic, and as you may know, I adore characters who are like that. Plus, his character arc is about learning to open up, not using humor in every situation to avoid talking about his feelings or the issues he is dealing with, and just generally growing as a person; that is one of the best types of character arcs if you ask me. Tark is just a well-rounded character with a realistic, well-done character arc.
Callie on the other hand was a little “blah” in my opinion. She’s supposed to be 18-years-old, but she comes across as a middle-aged mom. Not what I was expecting, nor want, out of her character. She’s not poorly written, she’s just my least favorite main character.
The characters are not the best part of this book. Don't get me wrong, they aren’t bad, they aren’t poorly written, but the focal point of this story is the Japanese culture; specifically the spiritualism aspect. The climax of this book takes place in rural Japan with page after page of Shinto exorcisms, demons, rituals that may or may not involve a plethora of intricate dolls with soulless eyes, and what happens once we die. It is both terrifying and beautiful.
My dear reader, I want you to take a moment and think about exorcisms. What does your mind automatically think of when you hear that word? Is it “the power of Christ compels you” scene from The Exorcist?
Do you think of blood-curdling screams as a Priest throws holy water at a person convulsing on the floor? Well I’m here to tell you to throw those thoughts out the window. This ain’t your mother’s exorcism!
Instead think of a small group of middle-aged to elderly women surrounding a teenaged boy in a circle of dolls as they chant incantations. That image is just as creepy as it sounds. This exorcism scene goes on for hours, and because it is so detailed and so vastly different from the exorcisms seen in western media, I could not put the book down at this point. Rin Chupeco had every hair on my body standing on end, I had goosebumps; I loved it.
Please, Rin Chupeco, terrify me some more. Please paint some more gory pictures that will never leave my mind. I want to see more of Okiku ripping apart some of the most disgusting people on this planet. I want to see more Shinto exorcisms that will scare me to the point I can’t sleep. I say that with the utmost respect and love, I just wished to be scared, fam.
All in all, I highly recommend this book. It gave me chills. It made me cry. The stakes were life and death and kept me on the edge of my seat. I stayed up well past midnight reading this one. It also has a sequel that I need in my life. It’s just a full ten-out-of-ten in my opinion.
With that, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with another fun review. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.