The Girl from the Well

 
Creepy, gory horror story based on Japanese folktale.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn about the origin of Okiku, a ghost legend in Japan. Japanese culture, locations, and folklore are thoroughly discussed and include Tokyo and the surrounding countryside, modern and traditional architecture, the bullet train, Yagen Valley in Aomori Prefecture, and Himeji Castle. Readers will learn about Japanese shrines and their uses, Japanese shamans, and the perils of exorcism. Japanese words are used. 

Positive messages

Be a good friend. Love your family and friends. Help others in times of need and stand up for them. Be courageous.

Positive role models

Okiku takes revenge on child murderers but also protects Tark and his family from a vicious ghost. Deep down she wants to be good and feel some humanity. Tark is a good student; he's smart, interested in history and culture, and loves his family. Tark's cousin, Callie, is a teacher's assistant, loves children and learning about new things, and is extremely brave. 

Violence

There's some gruesome, bloody, gory, horror-movie-type violence in The Girl from the Well. 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. 

Sex
Not applicable
Language

"Bitch," "f--k," "sonofabitch," "fag," "hell."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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."

Kids say

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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, <span style="\&quot;font-size:" 12.7272720336914px;="" line-height:="" 18.9090900421143px;\"="">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?

QUALITY
 

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! 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the real legend of Okiku and other ghost stories and urban legends. What are some ghost stories from Western culture?

  • Research exorcism and how it varies across cultures and religions. Why is it a pervasive practice?

Book details

Author:Rin Chupeco
Genre:Horror
Topics:Friendship, History, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date:August 5, 2014
Number of pages:272
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, Kindle

This review of The Girl from the Well was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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