Paranormal Young Adult
Available August 5th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
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.
A darkly unusual story, The Girl from the Well has us acting as cheerleaders throughout for a truly horrifying and vengeful spirit as she kills her victims in the most nightmare-inducing way possible. To go along with a tale that is both fascinating and off-putting is a rather unique format, one that includes sporadically placed indentations, one-word lines and various parenthetical asides that include numbers thanks to our ghostly narrator's mild obsession with counting. Okiku is a seemingly omniscient narrator (though being completely clueless as to official point of view definitions, I have no idea if this is in fact an omniscient POV), able to travel back and forth between a number of different characters and share with us their thoughts and feelings while occasionally jumping in with an “I” or “me” to remind us of her presence.
Okiku, given she's been wandering the earth for hundreds of years freeing the spirits of dead children from the shackles binding them to their murderers, is extraordinarily detached from the world itself, refusing for majority of the book to refer to anyone by name, instead calling them “the tattooed boy” or “the girl” when letting us know which character she happens to be following. As a result, we too are a touch detached from the story with the exception of the fervent hatred we feel when it comes to her victims, making the moments when she tortures and kills them, however terrifying, the times we feel most engaged in the story. Those who began this tale with no particular feelings towards dolls, mirrors, bathrooms or ceilings will likely find themselves looking at each with new eyes after reading, glancing at them with no shortage of wariness or fear while hoping against hope that we won't catch anything moving out of the corner of our eyes.
Okiku's journey with Tark (the tattooed boy) and his cousin Callie (the girl) is a bit of a wandering one, moving forward quickly and easily but also bouncing us around from one crime scene to the next before moving us to Japan and immersing us in their numerous ghost stories and demonic legends. Though we never find ourselves emotionally attached to either Tark or Callie, Okiku's ability to be both protector and executioner keeps us riveted throughout, tense up to the very last page as we wonder if she'll be able to free Tark from his complicated demonic bindings. Those readers looking for something a little different–and a whole lot unnerving–will likely find themselves easily swept up in Okiku's bloody freedom mission, the story itself strongly unique enough to overcome a (likely intentional) lack of character intimacy.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.