Jasmine El-issa, Staff Writer
Onryou or Onryo is a name of Japanese origin. It’s given to a vengeful spirit who has been denied peace in the afterlife. In the case of Rin Chupeco’s The Girl From the Well, our Onryou is named Okiku. She’s a spiteful soul with a certain taste of victim: child murderers. Her only purpose is to find underage souls latching onto the backs of their murderers (as they often do when killed unjustly). To her, killing a child is the worst crime; although you may find her biased… being murdered herself as a child centuries earlier.
Her revenge takes her far from Japan; she travels over oceans and deserts with a trail of bloody bodies left in a trail. When she’s not killing, she counts. Literally, she counts anything and everything her eyes can see. People, windows, buildings, souls, anything. Her place on earth seems pretty straight forward, until she meets Tarkquinn.
Tarkquinn or Tark is an interesting character. He’s just a teenage boy trying to survive high school, but he has a dark secret, a secret only Okiku can see. Tark’s body holds a great evil that is barely held together by the bazar tattoos that cover his body. His painful past isn’t the only burden he carries, a demon stalks him, constantly making life more difficult to bare. Now driven by fascination rather than her usual revenge, Okiku feels the need to help this boy. But will she be able to save him from his fate?
The novel The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco is of the young adult horror genre but I felt less goosebumps and more empathy reading this than expected. With Japanese lore pumping through its veins Okiku’s purpose and story is definitely creepy, which makes her love for Tarkquinn even sweeter. But don’t read this book if you’re looking for a romantic love story filled with redemption and new found purposes, because you will be disappointed. Much to my liking, our dark spirit stays just that; dark. Although we see Tark bring out new feelings in Okiku she remains vengeful and badass all throughout.
Along with Tark and Okiku we are presented with many other characters, with the most complex being the boy’s mother. Being placed in a mental hospital is never a good sign but this character has a respectable reason for her psychotic behavior. Knowing about the evil that preys on Tark she forcibly inks his skin in order to contain the darkness within him, she also attempts his murder on multiple occasions, but even among all this, Tark still seeks her love. The mothers back story also contributes to a huge part in the story, but don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.
Relationships in novels contribute greatly to my interest in the plot and let me just say, Rin really hits a homerun with Tark and Callie. Callie is Tarks older cousin, but she portrays more of a motherly figure, resulting in an adorable relationship. Callie’s role in this piece is to protect Tark, starting with school but then evolving into the antagonist that is his literal demon. Although Okiku is depicted as the heroine, I see Callie as the true female figure in the novel.
I truly enjoyed reading this book, plot twists, backstories, characters and all. If you’re looking for a thrilling, mind manipulating book that will make you question your own purpose The Girl from the Well is a great place to start. If you enjoyed this book, make sure to check out Rin Chupeco’s other work, as I know I will be.