A Japanese ghost tries to fight an evil spirit that haunts a 15-year-old boy in this strange, Stephen King–like horror story.
Okiku was brutally murdered 300 years ago at age 16 and has roamed the world ever since, killing child murderers. Murderers unwittingly carry the ghosts of those they have killed on their backs, making them easy for Okiku to spot. She’s chasing down a particularly nasty serial killer when she encounters Tarquin, the son of an American man and a Japanese woman. Now institutionalized, Tarquin’s mother inscribed strange tattoos on the boy, which act as seals to imprison the evil ghost inside him. The family travels to Japan after Tarquin’s captive spirit horribly murders his mother so they can scatter the dead woman’s ashes at a shrine. There, they meet some women who can try to free Tarquin from his spirit tormentor, but exorcisms aren’t easy. Chupeco bases her modern horror story on an old Japanese folk tale about a vengeful spirit named Okiku. She writes in Okiku’s formal, ghostly voice, requiring readers to piece together strange episodes that introduce not only Okiku, but also Tarquin and his family, only slowly revealing the severity of the danger Tarquin faces. They come together eventually to reveal the full story and, with their opacity, contribute to the book’s slowly mounting suspense.
A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates. (Paranormal suspense. 14-18)