The Girl From the Well had the potential to be a terrifying horror story, but, instead, came across as an unsuccessful combination of what feels like, potential, multiple stories. The plot was, somewhat, confusing and rushed. The point of view seems to skip back and forth between 1st and 3rd person at unusual times, and we are immersed into Japanese culture in an un-explanatory way, being introduced to several words that are not defined in the story. This book seems like it would have been better suited to be split into different stories with a more suitable way of cultural introduction.
Chapter One starts out as an interesting, relatable version of The Ring. The “girl from the well” character, Okiku, is portrayed here to be a book version of the characters from The Ring and The Grudge. The imagery used was spine tingling and the storyline was one that could have kept you on the edge of your seat. However, when the “girl from the well” comes across our main character Tark, the introduction of what should be a separate storyline begins. What unfolds is a relationship built between Okiku (the girl from the well) and Tark along with at least three conflicts that would have been better written as separate books.
I would have liked to follow Okiku on her main journey of wreaking justice for murdered children. An entire book could have been written just on Okiku, her history, and her journey of slaughtering child murderers. This is where chapter One should have led. This book was sorely lacking in her history, and her character was not involved enough to warrant being the title of the book.
With the story of Tark, his history with his mother, and the issue of the “woman in black”, a completely separate story could have been written. I do not feel that Okiku played a big enough role in his story to need to be included. Without Okiku, Tark’s cousin Callie would have been enough of a supporting main character to help resolve this story’s conflict.
Another potential story from this book could have relied heavily on Okiku’s history and the emotional change in her need for vengeance after meeting Tark (which is what is implied, in my opinion, on the description on the back of the book). I feel like with the synopsis we were given, we should have been heavily immersed in to Okiku’s world for several chapters. We should have learned her history (our Okiku history lesson in the book is somewhat confusing), journeyed with her on several revenge kills and stood by her side as she set free several tortured spirits of children from multiple murderers. After much storyline with “the girl from the well”, is where we should have met Tark and witnessed a relationship and a change in Okiku. “The woman in black” would not have seemed necessary in this potential setting, but could have still been worked in if Callie were to be omitted.
Because I seldom put a book down before its end, I finished this one and did enjoy the ending. The way the main conflict was resolved with Okiku was unique and unexpected. The writer performed well in delivering “creepy” imagery involving “the girl from the well”, but due to the jumbled feel of the storyline, this was not one of my favorite reads.