A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Girl from the Well is the first book in a series based on the legend of Japanese ghost Okiku. There's some gruesome, bloody, gory, horror-movie-type violence. A muddy tub and a mirror are used to kill; creepy Okiku usually kills by drowning or swallowing people. Dead faces are described as being bloated and decayed. Some bodies are described as cut up in pieces and beheaded. Child victims are described as being dead and hanging off the backs of murderers. Another creepy ghost wears an Asian porcelain-doll mask but underneath has an eyeless, decaying face. There's hand-to-hand combat, and a knife and a baseball bat are used. There's an extremely spooky vibe, with Okiku hanging from ceilings, crawling like a spider, and popping out of nowhere. Strong language includes "bitch," "f--k," "sonofabitch," "hell," and the slur "fag."
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What's the story?
According to legend, Japanese handmaiden Okiku was brutally beaten and killed. For centuries, she wandered the world as a ghost, searching for peace and freeing the spirits of dead children by killing their murderers. It's not until she meets Tark, an American boy just as lonely as Okiku, that she wants to help someone. Okiku knows that whatever attracts her to Tark has to do with whatever lies beneath his intricate tattoos. Okiku, Tark, and his cousin Callie soon discover the tattoos' true meaning and the identity of the evil ghost who haunts Tark. The unlikely trio must travel from America to Japan to release Tark from the darkness enveloping him before it's too late.
Is it any good?
Even if you're not a fan of horror and ghost stories, you'll enjoy the creepy and mysterious THE GIRL FROM THE WELL. There's more heart and a message here than the usual fare, and it's a mesmerizing read. The novel is told from three third-person points of view; Okiku is the moral center, although she's a disjointed and sad character; readers will root for Okiku to protect American teenager Tark; and Tark's cousin, Callie, is a kick-butt heroine with guts and smarts.
Readers will learn a great deal about Japanese folklore and mythology, and don't despair after turning the final page -- Book 2 is in the works!
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