The second book in “The Girl from the Well” series was solid. I think the end dragged a bit and honestly the ending didn’t really work for me. I think I would have preferred if Chupeco had gone another way. Once we read about one ritual that a strong priest or priestess could do, I kind of saw the ending coming a mile away. That said I loved the overall plot of Tark and Okiku returning to Japan to save Kagura well as fight against a ghost that has managed to trap an entire village and girls who were chosen to be brides and to “suffer” in order to open a Hell’s Gate.
“The Suffering” takes place a couple of years after the first book. We have Tark, now 17, still off hunting murderers with Okiku in the Washington D.C. area. Tark is used to being seen as an odd-ball around his school. He has plans to attend Brown University and is doing some exorcisms to keep his skills sharp. When Tark ends up helping out a cool kid and his girlfriend at his school, it seems that Tark is on the cusp of something more with a girl named Kendele. But with Okiku ends up doing something that may force the twosome to grow farther apart. When Tark’s aunt, Kagura goes missing after escorting a group of ghost hunters in the Aokigahara, Tark and his cousin Callie return to Japan to help her. There, Tark meets something more sinister than he has ever had to go up against.
Unlike with the prior book, you only follow Tark’s point of view throughout this story. We don’t get Okiku’s point of view which was a shame. We also get Tark’s thoughts via victims he is freeing while in Japan and of course him getting into the head of murderers via Okiku. It was good to read Tark’s point of view and his struggle to still do what Okiku needs while also not condoning her murdering people before they kill. When the story shifts to Japan the pace moves faster, but you do still see Tark and Okiku’s bond. I thought Chupeco did a great job again of weaving in Japan’s mythology into the core story.
The other characters we find in this one are interesting. For example, we get to find out more about Kagura’s late father.
The writing was good, the pace was a bit up and down. Towards the end I was wondering if the book was going to ever end. But nope we had two more chapters to go.
The setting of Japan and a village that is haunted by its past was great. I wish we had more time to stay in the story of a man who is determined to rule Hell’s Gate, no matter what he has to sacrifice. I will say though that the book leaves open the possibility of another book in this series. I do wonder if Chupeco will do so.