March 15, 2021

Rin Chupeco: "The Suffering"

Title: The Suffering  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Girl from the Well (2nd of 2 books)
Author: Rin Chupeco [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Horror
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Top-notch horror/mythology. Compelling action. Vibrant characters. Tug-at-your-heartstrings situations. Writing that maintains an inner poetic quality even in the midst of such horrors.
Cons: Paranormal romance rears its ugly head (though not in any conventional sense).
WARNING! Violence/gore. Death by suffocation.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy an eerie quality in their horror.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she's groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan's suicide forest, Okiku's justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price... (Amazon)

Review: The sequel to The Girl in the Well (where, incidentally, the perspective switches from ghost's to human's) is even better than the original. But the paranormal romance angle prevented me to rate it higher, though I realise that it's different from your usual "dating-the-creature" perspective...


The sequel to The Girl from the Well is partly inspired by another well-know Japanese piece of lore (the Suicide Forest)...except this one is, alas, firmly grounded in reality: Aokigahara is, indeed, a Japanese forest, and according to Wikipedia, one of the world's most-used suicide sites. No need to worry though: the setting is used to tell a very different - if horrifying - story. Also, before we get there, we spend a third of the book on American ground, getting up-to-date with Tark (now 17) and Okiku's living (or dead, ha!) arrangement, and their vigilante work. At the end of The Girl from the Well, Okiku and Tark's fates got intertwined in a peculiar way (no spoiler if you haven't read Book 1), so it's partly out of necessity if Tark teamed up with her in order to stop serial killers who fly under the radar; then again, there's more to it (as Tark will eventually realise), and at the same time, the human vs. ghost perspective makes for some interesting dynamics. Also, while Tark deals with your average YA stuff (like school, bullies and girls) and the teenage voice is spot on, he's far from being your average teen (let's be blunt, he's always been, even before Okiku - and that's precisely the reason why she was drawn to him), and the juxtaposition is partly funny, partly tragic, always juicy[...]


The last two thirds of the book are horror at its finest and most horrifying, in every sense. Forget the blurb, because what happens in the Suicide Forest has nothing to do with "Okiku's justice becoming blurred" and "Tark paying the price". Terrible things go bump among the trees (or, well, the walls sometimes), but as it is often the case, despite being deadly, they aren't half as ghastly as the evil that created them by preying on superstition and twisting rituals. Whether Tark and Okiku are fighting (often saving each other's ass, because hey, who said ghosts can't be wounded or even killed for good?) or waiting for the hammer to fall while investigating the forest's curse and trying to locate the people who vanished in there, there's hardly a moment to catch one's breath, or well, you know, a lulling one. Granted, I don't always fare well with lore and tales of old, but everything comes alive here (or, well, dead 😁) - and then again, when spirits aren't at rest, (non) funny things can happen...


I will admit that, despite some generic similarities, the Girl from the Well duology can't quite be compared to the Anna one. The relationship (or lack thereof) between Anna Dressed in Blood and ghost hunter Cass was written as a paranormal romance with lots of teenage angst, while there's a complexity to Okiku and Tark's one that the other series lacked - or didn't manage to convey. I will admit that what Okiku and Tark have doesn't exactly fall under your conventional boy-meets-ghost umbrella. Then again - and even if I love the scenes where they are ready to risk everything for each other...or more like, the ones where Okiku is - the ending doesn't sit right with me, and Tark's full immersion in Okiku's world isn't healthy, even for a boy who has literally been forced into a communion with an evil being since he was a kid. At no point in the book does it sound like he will ever be able to forge a real, meaningful relationship with a girl, even when he's sort of dating one. So I'll let my grumpy old self take over and not rate this book 5 or even 4.5 stars, even if it was honestly compelling and fascinating. Sorry, sometimes my grumpy old self can't be overidden 🤷‍♀️. (Still a great book though!).

For my "The Girl from the Well" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.


  1. First, that's a seriously creepy cover. And creepier that there is actually a "most popular" suicide site. Eeek. But it sounds like the horror aspect was really well done here!

    1. Yep, that's sad, isn't it? It's like even in death people wouldn't want to be alone. The book is top-notch horror and storytelling though!

  2. Eeek scary, I am not always good with scary, but I also like it

    1. This one is, indeed, a bit heavy - despite its being YA. It all depends on the level of scary you can handle 😉.

  3. Yikes I've seen other stuff by this author and it definitely looks like a chilling pick!

    1. Yep, she's mostly known for her fantasy stuff (which I'm not into), but she debuted with this duology...and it is a "chilling pick" indeed LOL.

  4. That cover is giving me The Ring vibes, so I'm definitely going to stay away from this one, haha. I'm happy you enjoyed it! Although, I have no idea how you sleep at night. 😅

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    1. Like a baby LOL. If anything, it's the real world that keeps me awake...

  5. I'e heard about the suicide forest and the fact that it's an actual thing is so darn sad. That cover is seriously creepy.

    1. It's like people need a place where they can not be alone in their death somehow...

      Creepy cover, yeah. Creepy book too! 😉

  6. I do enjoy some good horror books and films! I still need to read something by Chupeco and I am sad that I haven't done so yet. I really like the sound of the ghost vs human perspective and what that juxtaposition brings to the table. I know about the suicide forest and it's always hard hitting when books have connections to reality like that.

    1. This duology is the only thing I've read by Chupeco because I don't like fantasy, which is all she's been writing lately, but I do recommend her as an author because these two books were so well done!


Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.