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The Girl From The Well – Rin Chupeco

Followers of Japanese horror, aka J-Horror, in both literary and film media are well-versed in the genre trope more-or-less made famous by Koji Suzuki’s novel, The Ring. Many sequels, spin-offs, and copycats have been generated in both Japan and the US. The ghostly, and deadly Samara, with her long, black hair and dirty white nightgown, has become a horror icon. Similarly, the Japanese manga created by Tsugumi Ohba, Death Note, has spawned an anime TV series, two live-action films to date, and numerous imitators. It’s therefore forgivable to brush off Rin Chupeco’s 2014 debut novel, The Girl from the Well, as just another in a long line of followers seeking to cash in on the popularity of the above-mentioned classics. But that would be an error in judgment.

Make no mistake – there is definitely a strong resonance to both benchmark creations. However, Chupeco offers a fresh interpretation that incorporates revenge from the grave, spiritual possession, and cultural history into the lives of a very well-drawn set of characters. The result is a story that is absolutely chilling in some scenes, very violent in others, but always stressing the loneliness and isolation of the outsider along with deep, familial love.

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Okiku, the girl from the well, was murdered 300 years ago. She is the most dangerous and horrific of ghosts: the mobile one, capable of moving across the world, reaching into our reality to exact a specific form of revenge associated with her death. She manifests in hideous ways – hanging from the ceiling, standing silently in a corner – and some special people, mainly children and young adults, can see her. One special child is fifteen-year-old Tarquin, covered in tattoos from his institutionalized Japanese mother at a very early age, and subject to attempted control by a very evil spirit. Tarquin, along with his older cousin, Callie, make the acquaintance of Okiku when Tarquin is abducted by a murderous pedophile. To say more would spoil the many genre pleasures found in this book.

The novel is not perfect by any means. The pace of the story is uneven, beginning fast and furiously, then slowing down through a process of info dump through lengthy dialog in the final third, before erupting once again in a nicely-realized and vicious battle. The story seems written for an eventual film franchise, with a sequel, The Suffering, released in August of this year. Regardless of motivation, the author’s prose is assured, precise and quite descriptive. Characterizations, including Okiku, are well-structured. While the book appears to be targeted for the YA market, it is a treat for adults as well. Emulation of classic tropes doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Rate it four out of five stars. Chupeco is an author to watch.

Book (Novella) Review – The Grendel’s Shadow

Off World Hunter Meets the Monster of Legend

Sci-fi horror novel that retells a version of Beowulf. Raw Book Review

The way to determine if you might enjoy this novella is to ask you the following questions:

1) Did you enjoy the story of Beowulf?

2) Did you enjoy the movie The Ghost in the Darkness?

3) Are you fan of genre mashing, specifically Sci-fi and Pulp Adventure?

4) Is an entertaining story more important than complex literary talent?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above then you may be interested in checking out The Grendel’s Shadow by Andrew Mayne.

As with previous novels we’ve reviews, this book was stumbled upon by chance and purchased based on the sale price of $0.99. Its a novella at 126 pages long, but to our surprise we were treated to a well written adventure story that kept us entertained from beginning to end.

The story follows a professional hunter who is hired by the government of a colonized planet to rid them of a wild beast that is attacking and killing families along an undomesticated frontier region.

Sounds like science fiction right? Yes, but only for the initial worldbuilding in which the story is set. What Andrew Mayne does well is take a 1920s style pulp adventure story, one that could easily be set around the turn of the century (late 1800s) and place it in a far future.

The story hits the ground running and never lets up. It’s a short read but it doesn’t disappoint.

Is it just a new version of Beowulf?

No. We asked the Beowulf question because this novel is certainly inspired by Beowulf, but it’s unique enough to be a good read.

I’m not a fan of guns and violent stories, will I like this?

We think so. It’s almost a period piece. Almost.

Where can I get it?

We bought it on Kindle.