A presence of comfort for dead children, a presence of fear for those that would do violence. The girl in white, the girl from the well, is powerful with her age. She uses her strength to help free the spirits of children trapped on earth by the violent deaths they met. She wields power over those that kill children, and rarely concerns herself with the events of the world outside of that. However, when she encounters the new fixation of one of her future victims, she becomes curious. A boy with tattoos that swirl, followed by another like her–but this woman wears black and a mask over her face.
For Tark, his mother’s insanity and the tattoos he’s lived with his whole life are just cards he’s been dealt. He doesn’t realize what any of these things mean, but he has realized a presence following him and he’s reached out to it. That strange bond changes his life in more ways than one.
What is The Girl From the Well about?
This book is about Okiku, Callie, and Tarquin (Tark for short). Okiku is a representation of a Japanese legend. In this version of her story, Okiku is the main POV and has grown powerful as an earthbound spirit who avenges murdered children and then sets their souls free. Callie and Tark are cousins, recently reunited when Tark’s father movies them to the same town Callie lives in. Tark’s mother, Yoko, tattooed him when he was a child and descended into mental illness, trying to kill him repeatedly throughout his youth. The tattoos seem to tie a mysterious dark figure to Tark, and terrible things tend to happen around him. This is what attracts Okiku to him when she notices a killer take interest in him.
So this book plays on the world of horror, specifically drawing from Japanese ghost stories and the figure of the girl from the well–famous for being included in horror movies such as The Ring.
Tropes: Uh…. Yeah this is original as it gets honestly
I mean, sure, Okiku is inspired by Japanese legends and you can see plenty of atmospheric horror moments take place but this book is amazing. I’ve never read anything like it honestly, from the way Okiku’s perspective is written to the fact that the story is always a first person narrative from Okiku’s POV despite little forays into Callie’s thoughts and dreams, or brief scenes that delve into others’ minds.
Plot: Ghostly Battle Royale
So not strictly Battle Royale but yeah. Okiku versus the woman in black? Hell of a battle! And a lot of the book building up to that shows off Okiku’s skills, and the other dead woman’s abilities as well. It’s pretty great build up honestly, very well written!
Everything. Everything about this book is good. The writing is so interesting, because Okiku’s quirks and thinking pattern break into the stream of narrative so naturally and also so disconcertingly. Tark’s tragic life, Callie’s determined love and desire to protect him, and Okiku’s subsequent fascination with the two of them are all such compelling storylines wrapped into the tale of the woman in black. I also appreciated Callie’s exploration of Okiku’s origins, the way Okiku becomes a comforting if sometimes terrifying presence, and the way Yoko’s story ends up being told. No part of the story was left untold, and I also liked the way power was used and thwarted. This was a truly fascinating, well written, and awesome book.
As usual, this is where I’ll be putting some content warnings in lieu of anything else. CW for gore, violence, violence against children, death, decapitation, blood, torture, kidnapping, mentions of abuse, mentions of child abuse, implication of child molestation. This book very heavily leans into the horror genre, so expect a lot of the terror, gore, and violence that come with that. Okiku also specifically focuses on murderers of children in her ghostly life, so there is plenty of mention and implication that goes with that.
I can’t get over how amazing this book is. The writing style, Okiku’s perspective, the use of her power over children against the woman in black.. I enjoyed every moment of reading this. The characters are enjoyable and each unique, and the story is incredible. This book is well written, compelling, heart wrenching at times, and so so fantastic. It is both ode and improvement for the horror genre, it provides a fascinating protagonist in the form of Okiku–the girl from the well herself–and uses such interesting parts of Japanese culture and folk legend. If you are comfortable with the level of gore and violence to be expected of a horror story, please do pick this one up, you won’t regret it!