The Suffering by Rin Chupeco (The Girl from the Well, #2)
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…
TITLE: The Suffering
AUTHOR: Rin Chupeco
PUBLISHER: Sourcefire Books
LENGTH: 320 pages
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Horror, Paranormal
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
THE SUFFERING is unabashedly a horror story, one which cares about its characters, even the ghastly and/or murderous ones. It's also a platonic love story between two very broken people, helping to right past wrongs and stop the dying. It's an excellent follow-up to THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, from the perspective of the haunted one this time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This resolves a major thing left hanging from the previous book. The main storyline starts here and wasn't present previously, and it is resolved by the end. Currently it's book two in a duology (I see no indications of a third in the future), and it feels very complete. It provides emotional resolution to some things left open from the first book, and it makes clear what kind of live the characters will have after the pages end. It feels finished and I'm very content with how things wrapped up. The main character changed and is very distinct from the first narrator. Since the emotional core of this book is the way Tark and Okiku's relationship changes and settles after the events of the first book, if you read this without knowing why they got here then the ending of this book definitely won't be as satisfying. I think most of the main plot would make sense, but very basic questions like "why does this guy want to drop everything to go help these people right now" were set up by THE GIRL FROM THE WELL.
I love Tark as a narrator, and it's so good to see him gaining a sense of agency after the events of the first book. He and Okiku have a great rapport and I'm just so happy with how this handled their friendship. If you liked the first book you'll almost definitely like this one (though since Okiku isn't narrating there's much less counting of objects). If you enjoy horror stories about compassion, hauntings, and setting right the wrongs of the past, read this duology.
CW for ableist language (brief), grief, bullying, racism, racial slurs, confinement, blood, gore, body horror (graphic), violence (graphic), child abuse (not depicted), sexual assault (not depicted), suicide, murder, child death, major character death, death.