These two haunting books by Rin Chupeco, would be perfect for reading on Halloween. They are both very dark and twisty. The Japanese mythology that they are based on is fascinating as well. And the dolls, well they are just plain creepy. Here are my thoughts about both books. To see their summaries on GoodReads, just click on their titles.
The Girl from the Well (2014)
“Few stories start with death. Often, it starts with grief.”
This story is based on a Japanese ghost story. The story behind the girl from the well is heartbreaking to say the least. But Okiku is a force to be reckoned with. She haunts the world looking for evil and ending the people who harm others, mostly children.
The story is told mostly through two alternating perspectives, Okiku and Cassie. They were both very likable. Okiku is somewhat terrifying as an avenging ghost, but she is drawn to Tark for reasons she doesn’t understand. Her story was interesting and sad at times, but you have to appreciate her choice of victims. She only kills those who deserve death, child abusers and murderers.
Cassie is Tark’s cousin, but they are more like siblings. They are very close and it is very endearing to see how much Cassie cares for Tark. It was interesting to see what was happening from Cassie’s perspective, but I wondered why the author chose her to narrate. Most of what is going on is centered around Tark and the evil spirit that is tied to him. I kept wanting to hear his perspective. I think Cassie’s perspective was interesting though.
The story was amazing, especially when they travel to Japan and learn about the exorcism rituals with the dolls. So very creepy. Ms Chupeco, of course does a marvelous job of creating a very atmospheric setting with such beautiful prose even when things are terrifying and dark. The ending was well done and satisfying. But I was also glad to learn that there was a sequel.
The Suffering (2015)
“The air changes. Then that invisible spider crawls up my spine, tickling the hairs behind my neck.
I have come to know this spider these last couple of years. It whispers there’s something else in the room, breathing with you, watching you, grinning at you.
I hate that damn spider.”
I was so happy when I realized there was a sequel, and that it was being told from Tark’s perspective. I was hoping for some of it to also be told by Okiku, but no. But that ended up being ok, as this was Tark’s journey after all.
The story takes place a few years after the events in the first book. Tark is now a senior in high school with some interesting extra-curricular activities. He goes with Okiku when she hunts, and sometimes helps, though never with the actual killing. He has learned how to exorcise demons and spirits as well, and Okiku usually helps him with this. Their relationship is wonderful, very caring and protective of each other. Tark is a wonderful young man with a great sense of humor, even if it is dark at times. But he is also a bit of a loner. Some of that has to do with his past, but also his present.
Tark and Cassie return to Japan half way through the book, to look for a missing friend and mentor, Kagura, who is lost in the Aokigahara forest (the infamous suicide forest) along with a ghost hunting film crew. It is in this forest and the hidden village there that things really begin to get creepy and interesting. The evil presence there and the horrible rituals performed will certainly give you a fright. But the ending is wonderful and beautiful.
If you are still looking for that perfect Halloween read, I would recommend checking out these two books. You could read the second without having read the first one, but the relationship between Tark and Okiku is better understood by reading the first book.