Author: Rin Chupeco
Synopsis: A dead girl walks the streets.
She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.
And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.
Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.
Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for this ARC!
I am VERY critical about books that take place in Japan. A lot of the time they are ripe with stereotypes and generalizations. This one lost points for a few things that bugged me. Mainly the ~cool Japan~ / ~only in Japan~ stuff that Tark noticed when he first moved to Tokyo… the stupid underwear in a vending machine… gag me. I also was SUPER annoyed when Callie arrives in KANSAI (western Japan) and the tour guide is like ‘don’t worry, we wont be going near the areas that were damaged by the earthquake / affected by radiation’. Um, I’m sorry but NO PLACES in Kansai were damaged/radiated. So why was that in there?! Also I wish the author would have made up her mind about how to write out their names. Some were the traditional last name/first name order but then it randomly flipped to first name / last name. And one guy even introduced himself as ‘san’ which is just no. And the date for Obon was wrong (I even googled it, it’s in August, not October).
I don’t know a lot about Japanese ghost stories or legends so I’m not totally sure how accurate all of THAT stuff was but I’m just going to go with it because I can’t be bothered to care if it was accurate or not. But if anybody who is like, versed in Japanese lore reads these and there IS something incorrect… lemme know.
My only other nit-picking is there were A LOT of errors in this book. Mainly pluralization mistakes. Which was weird, and I know it’s an ARC, but I hope that an editor goes over this a bit more carefully before it publishes because I don’t remember the last time I read a book with that many errors.
STORY WISE… this was good. I was instantly drawn in. The story is told from the POV of a ghost, Okiku, who’s been dead for over 300 years. She hunts murders but only those who murder children. And she kills them. Horror movie style. I was REALLY worried that this was going to scare me because I am NOT a horror movie person. Thankfully I’m able to control my imagination a bit more when I read scary books and I actually ENJOY my imagination over seeing other people’s twisted imaginations up on the big screen. This was deliciously creepy. But if you’re looking for something that’s going to make you sleep with the light on for the next month… this isn’t it.
I LOVED the family relationship in this book. There’s NO romance (tho I do think that Tark kinda had a crush on Okiku). Tark is cursed and his cousin Callie helps him figure out what’s happening. I loved their relationship and how she took care of him. I thought it was rather refreshing to have a family relationship over a romantic one for once.
The writing… was odd at times, buuuuut I think that helped the book. It was a little annoying at first, but once I got into it the sometimes strange writing actually made it a bit more atmospheric. Okiku’s counting was uncomfortable at times and that just added to her character. So if you find it a little strange at first, just keep going, because it does work.
So yeah, despite my gripes, I really liked this!