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The girl from the well

Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Fire, [2014]
Physical Description:
267 pages ; 22 cm
Number in series:
bk. 1.
General Note:
Sequel: The suffering.
Okiku has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the innocent ghosts of the murdered-dead and taking the lives of killers with the vengeance they are due, but when she meets Tark she knows the moody teen with the series of intricate tattoos is not a monster and needs to be freed from the demonic malevolence that clings to him.
Reading Level:
Ages 14 and up.


Call Number
Chupeco, R.

On Order



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'sskin, 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.

Author Notes

Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She's been a technical writer and a travel blogger but now makes things up for a living. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, The Suffering, The Bone Witch trilogy, and the A Hundred Named for Magic trilogy. Connect with Rin at rinchupeco.com.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This tale continues and reimagines the Japanese folktale of "Okiku and the Nine Plates." The title character is a ghost wandering Earth to free the souls of murdered children who live chained to their murderers. The author delivers on this interesting premise, which lends itself to some creepy moments, as the protagonist avenges the murdered children. A human teenage boy, Tark, catches her attention because she can sense something in him, tied to the strange moving tattoos his mother gave him when he was five. As she gets to know more about Tark and his disturbed mother, a friendship forms as they travel to Japan to figure out his story. The relationship between Okiku and Tark could have used a little more development to make the ending plausible, but readers used to fast-paced horror films will easily suspend disbelief. A dark novel that will appeal to horror fans, lovers of Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl (S. & S., 2008), and also potentially to teens interested in Japanese culture.-Sarah Jones, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chupeco makes a powerful debut with this unsettling ghost story, drawing from the same ancient Japanese legend that inspired The Ring and other horror pieces. Okiku is a vengeful spirit who wanders the world, tracking down those who abuse and murder children, killing them to free their victims' souls. When Okiku encounters 15-year-old Tark Halloway, she discovers that he's haunted by a terrifying spirit who is capable of great violence. Okiku has dispassionately existed only to take vengeance, and the unexpected fondness she develops for Tark and his cousin Callie eventually takes them to Japan, where Okiku confronts her own tragic origin and sees a chance to rid Tark of his demon. Told in a marvelously disjointed fashion from Okiku's numbers-obsessed point of view, this story unfolds with creepy imagery and an intimate appreciation for Japanese horror, myth, and legend. The tropes Chupeco invokes will be familiar to any fan of J-horror, but the execution is spine-tingling, relying more on cinematic cuts than outright gore. Ages 14-up. Agent: Nicole LaBombard and Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

A Japanese ghost tries to fight an evil spirit that haunts a 15-year-old boy in this strange, Stephen King-like horror story.Okiku was brutally murdered 300 years ago at age 16 and has roamed the world ever since, killing child murderers. Murderers unwittingly carry the ghosts of those they have killed on their backs, making them easy for Okiku to spot. She's chasing down a particularly nasty serial killer when she encounters Tarquin, the son of an American man and a Japanese woman. Now institutionalized, Tarquin's mother inscribed strange tattoos on the boy, which act as seals to imprison the evil ghost inside him. The family travels to Japan after Tarquin's captive spirit horribly murders his mother so they can scatter the dead woman's ashes at a shrine. There, they meet some women who can try to free Tarquin from his spirit tormentor, but exorcisms aren't easy. Chupeco bases her modern horror story on an old Japanese folk tale about a vengeful spirit named Okiku. She writes in Okiku's formal, ghostly voice, requiring readers to piece together strange episodes that introduce not only Okiku, but also Tarquin and his family, only slowly revealing the severity of the danger Tarquin faces. They come together eventually to reveal the full story and, with their opacity, contribute to the book's slowly mounting suspense.A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates. (Paranormal suspense. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Okiku is a Japanese spirit of unavenged murders, and within the first few pages, readers see how she exacts her business. By appearing to murderers not yet weighed down by their consciences, she hunts them into what seems like death, their last words begging for clemency and help that will never come. In the same city, Tark, a teenage boy, is dealing with a mentally ill mother, a cross-country move, and mysterious tattoos that seem to cause weird and unexplained phenomena to happen around him. Part of the horror is Okiku, and part of it is trying to figure out why Tark is haunted and what's haunting him. There's a superior creep factor that is pervasive in every lyrical word of Chupeco's debut, and it's perfect for teens who enjoy traditional horror movies and stories. Told from Okiku's perspective as a long-dead girl, the novel has a tone that may make it hard to sympathize with the characters, but the story is solidly scary and well worth the read, especially with the clever, poetic writing style when Okiku is on the prowl.--Comfort, Stacey Copyright 2014 Booklist