Read Well Witched by Frances Hardinge Online


Ryan and his friends don't think twice about stealing some money from a wishing well. After all, who's really going to miss a few tarnished coins?The well witch does.And she demands payback: Now Ryan, Josh, and Chelle must serve her . . . and the wishes that lie rotting at the bottom of her well. Each takes on powers they didn't ask for and don't want. Ryan grows strange bRyan and his friends don't think twice about stealing some money from a wishing well. After all, who's really going to miss a few tarnished coins?The well witch does.And she demands payback: Now Ryan, Josh, and Chelle must serve her . . . and the wishes that lie rotting at the bottom of her well. Each takes on powers they didn't ask for and don't want. Ryan grows strange bumps--are they eyes?--between his knuckles; Chelle starts speaking the secrets of strangers, no matter how awful and bloody; and Josh can suddenly--inexplicably--grant even the darkest of wishes, the kind of wishes that should never come true.Darkly witty, wholly unexpected, and exquisitely sinister, Frances Hardinge's Well Witched is one well-cast tale that readers didn't know they were wishing for....

Title : Well Witched
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060880385
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Well Witched Reviews

  • Nataliya
    2018-09-15 14:20

    "We always find it difficult to forgive our heroes for being human."This is one of the best books I've read this year, despite it being a children's book. Here, I said it. It has that amazing level of complexity and ambiguity, the brave tackling of difficult questions - friendship, loyalty, and the grey undertones of both right and wrong - that so many adult books lack.And it does not talk down to children, its intended audience. Instead it assumes - and does so correctly - that children have the mental capacity to deal with the ambiguities of life without the need for sugar-coating and simplification. In short, it's another addition to the ever-growing pile of books meant for my (future, hypothetical) daughter that I will be proud to give to her as a (future, hypothetical) parent.------------The hardest thing for me was to get past the silly American edition title - "Well Witched" - the title that just screams of silly unicorns and candy canes and perhaps a magical witching school somewhere. Well, from now on I'll think of this book by its original British title - 'Verdigris Deep', the title that avoids the childish cutesy (that is really not a part of this book!) and instead suggests something more sophisticated and more sinister - exactly keeping up with the tone of this book.Whoever those people are who decide to change the titles of books for American public, mostly succeeding in making them sound dumber or sillier or needlessly more sensational - those people need to be fired pronto, with Donald Trump-like stone cold 'You're fired!' phrase chasing them out of the door. Idiots.----------------Frances Hardinge just may become my favorite children's book author if she keeps writing like this, with lovely phrases and apt descriptions, and dialogue that feels alive, and complex characters that become more and more three-dimensional as the story progresses, and her ability to cultivate and maintain suspense, and her ability to make even the adult readers gasp and choke up a bit, and have that funny feeling deep in their chests that makes them wistfully look back at their childhoods. Her ability to make her young characters come to life reminds me of Pratchett and Gaiman and King - and for those who know me, that's saying something, indeed.This story is about a trio of children who get caught in the web - or a well - of events they could not really anticipate. Having taken a few coins from an old wishing well - just to get enough for a bus fare, they suddenly find themselves way over their heads when they are not only forced to become wish-granters but have to endure their friendship bonds straining, their families fall apart, and innocent-seeming game turn into a true life-or-death scenario - all while seeing their childhood ideas crumble and their hero thrown off their pedestal.Ryan is an 11-year-old boy who skipped a grade because of his cleverness, worried about school and bullies, and seeing things a bit differently from others - a bit upside-down."It had shown him that if you looked at things from a new angle, they could suddenly become unfamiliar and scary. It became important to see things in so many different ways as possible, so they couldn't catch you by surprise."Chelle is a 12-year-old timid asthmatic girl who can never stop talking despite nobody ever really listening to her, striving for some approval and understanding but always failing at it; a bland 'coleslaw' to her more colorful friends."Poor Chelle, always waiting to find out what she was allowed to think or feel. No wonder she had been so quiet when Ryan and Josh were arguing."And finally, Josh is a 13-year-old troublemaker adopted into a rich but cold family, who has taken the two misfits above under his wing and seems to understand Ryan's way of viewing the world upside-down; Josh to whom nothing ever seems impossible, who has an inexplicable way of always getting things to go his way; who always needs to be a center of attention and who can get a bit scary when he feels guilty or out of control."Josh was a firework and you never quite knew which way he was going to explode."It is Josh who initially seems to be at the heart of this story, whose carelessness gets the friends in trouble, who goes down the wishing well to grab an ill-fated fistful of coins, who is the only one to initially take the strange happenings in stride and infuse them with his trademark brand of carefree energy. And it's also Josh who, because of all this, appears to be particularly susceptible to the power of the strange happenings, and who makes a journey from being the indisputable hero of Ryan and Chele's lives to... well, you just need to read on to find out."Josh had not understood that every wish came in two parts, including a secret part of which even the wisher was often unaware."Together - and apart - these kids go through losing some of their innocence, and not in the way they ever expected. They learn the perils of power, and pain of revenge, and mystery of family ties, and the multi-layered nature of wishes which can hide many unexpected dangers. Including the dangers of wanting something so much that it takes over you completely."Josh, nobody's child, nobody's Chosen One, and now nobody's hero. The nurses bustling through the ward have no idea that a god had given up her power just to give him a chance at happiness. Right now, even that chance seemed pretty slender."This is one of those books that can stir up some deep unexpected feelings when you get through it, the feelings that are greyer and murkier than you'd expect to be brought up by a middle-grade book."I think I hated him for a bit," he said after a moment. "Just for, you know, not being everything I wanted him to be. But... even with all the bad stuff, he was still my friend. And if your friend's drowning, even if he's *trying* to drown and struggling to shake your hand off his sleeve, you don't let go, do you?"Easy five stars for this book, along with yet another wave of frustration at ridiculous publishing decision to hide the awesomeness of this story behind a silly title that is bound to turn away quite a few potential readers, robbing them of the experience Verdigris Deep can be. Frances Hardinge, I plan to read the rest of your books, just hoping that they will be just as good as the two I've read so far."As he read them out one by one, he imagined his words drifting down through the brown water into the green water, to where a gold-robed god sat by a silver fire in her lonely hall, handling a pair of yellow-tinted sunglasses as gently as if they were a living thing."

  • Betsy
    2018-09-02 17:24

    I’ve been around the block when it comes to loving first time authors, if you know what I mean. That pretty little debut novel comes out and suddenly you can’t stop talking about it. You proselytize “your” find to the high hills in an attempt to convince the world around you that what you have here is pure unadulterated gold. Then the author’s second book comes out and inevitably the crush fades. You notice flaws in the new book. It could never live up to the pristine glory that was the author’s first title, so you swallow your disappointment and move on with your life. Now in 2006 there was a little novel by the name ofFly by Night that came from first-time writer Frances Hardinge. People who know me know that I was head over heels for that title. And when I received her second book to be published in America, Well Witched I knew that I was either going to see lightning strike twice or be deeply disappointed. And what I found made me reevaluate my take on Hardinge’s writing, but in a good way. A very different beastie from her first outing, Well Witched has a slow start but once the action starts hopping it becomes a heady examination of power, wishes, and whether or not it’s fair to label something evil if it's merely misunderstood or out of place. Well what would you have done? Here they were, stranded in a small village that they were NOT supposed to be visiting in the first place, and Ryan, Josh, and Chelle had just missed the cheap bus out. Now they’d have to scrounge up some money for the heftier fare, and where on earth were they supposed to do that? Really, when you think of it, it was only logical rob the wishing well. Right? I mean, it’s not like it was going to miss the dough. But then, soon after, strange things start happening to the three kids. Josh seems to affect everything around him electrically. Chelle starts speaking the thoughts of certain people she’s near. And Ryan’s got these warts on his hands. Innocent at first and then... less so. It soon becomes clear that the three are under the thrall of the spirit that lives deep inside the well and they have a job to do. For each coin they took they must make that coin’s wish come true. At first it’s fun stuff like getting someone a motorcycle or helping them fall in love. Soon, though, it becomes clear that even if the wishes are death and dismemberment, they must help the wishers achieve their desires. And when one of the three starts taking the job a little too seriously, there are consequences involved that none of them could foresee.At first, you’re not sure why you’re getting everything from the point of view of Ryan. It’s like reading a Harry Potter book and finding that you’re inside the brain of Ron the entire time. Ryan is Josh’s right-hand man. He’s not particularly brilliant or funny. He's just a normal guy and it's JOSH that's the star of the show. As the story continues, however, it becomes clear that Ryan has a streak of good old-fashioned decency that will get him through this experience with a lot less damange than Josh.I admit to you right now that when I began reading the book I was disappointed by the plodding pace. Maybe “plodding” is too strong a term. Let’s call it “purposeful” then. It takes a while to get going. I liked learning about Ryan’s family and that kind of stuff, but the other two main characters didn’t gel for me. Even the powers the three receive were okay, but I didn’t really get into them. It wasn’t until the characters started to get proactive, going out there, finding wishers, and making wishes come true that the pace picked up. And when the villains of the piece started showing their true colors and the morality of what they were doing was called into question, then I found I couldn’t put it down. The story’s basically a roller coaster ride. If you can sit through the slow trip upwards, the downhill plunge is worth your hard earned cash.Technically it’s a fantasy novel but you might also be able to call it a horror. There elements in this book that screenwriters would kill to rip-off if they knew about them. I mean, what would happen if you opened your eyes in front of the mirror and found that your reflection had kept its own closed? And what’s more, when those eyelids DID open, what if they released gushing torrents of murky water? Consider too the warts on Ryan’s hands. I don’t want to give anything away, but imagine waking up in the middle of the night, looking at your hands, and seeing lines of hairs running through the center of each wart. I’d have nightmares about that, if my brain was smart enough to think it up on its own. Mind you, I don’t think that these elements make the book inappropriate for children. Just bear in mind that there are psychological elements that play on our fears rather than our fantasies in this story.Hardinge is the queen of the description. Nobody matches her in this respect. Nobody. Listen to some of these lines as they appear throughout the story:“Chelle was biting her lower lip, her upper lip pulling down to a point, like a little soft beak.”“I hate scars and things, they make my stomach feel like it’s unpeeling...”“. . . and it’s tricky because she always makes me feel like, well, you know what it’s like, when somebody’s watching you and you can feel it like dead leaves down the back of your sweater. . . ““She had big, vague eyes and a big, vague smile, and was always very busy in the way that a moth crashing about in a lampshade is busy.”“There was a pause while his brain hopped back and actually heard what Ryan had said.”“... this was different, and this was hate. This had brewed itself to a blackness like ink.”Regarding shopping carts: “Ryan had always thought that carts had far too much body language for objects with no heads or limbs.”Harding is also able to point out things about a person that we recognize without having thought of them before. Like when you pray to God in such a way that you hope that God would be impressed by your bravery. She gets people and the little crazy things that make us human. It makes her inhuman water spirit all the more frightening when you couple that kind of pitiless sense of black and white against humans and their charming flaws. The spirit doesn’t care if people make bad wishes or want to take them back later. All she cares about is granting them. I like books where human characters encounter someone alien and you feel that distance and that strangeness.The redemption of Chelle is one of the finest things about this book. In fact, when you think about it, the whole novel is about redemption. Nobody in this story is really “evil” even though incredibly evil things occur or almost occur. And I was as gung-ho to see the bad guy get it as anyone, but Hardinge doesn’t play by those rules. This isn't a book that's going to merrily kill a character for sport. Death is a desperate dangerous thing, and everyone in this book knows it.There are things that don’t make sense, a slow start, and some lines that don’t work with the rest of the text, but on the whole Hardinge’s book is captivating reading. The central idea is that when we wish, we aren’t wishing for what we really want. We’re wishing for the outer shiny layer, not the nut of the wish. Hardinge prefers nuts, and by the end of this book you will too. A scintillating tale worth discovering.

  • Patrick Burgess
    2018-08-27 17:58

    Another Great Book Fallen Victim To The Average American Reading Level...... which they say is around the 8th grade. Which I blame on dumb adults thinking kids aren't smart enough to read beyond their "expected" reading level. How the heck are kids going to learn to read higher than they already are if they aren't challenged? When I was a kid, I didn't let the prospect of unfamiliar words or concepts deter me from reading, oh no, I carried a little dictionary around with me, and what I didn't understand, I just waited until I was old enough to ('cause there are just some things that you won't get until you've lived a certain amount of experience).Coming back to this book, the original title (in the UK) is Verdigris Deep. An utterly lovely, intriguing, mysterious title. Had I seen THAT title, I would've been all over this book like a monkey on a banana. Well Witched on the other hand, an inane pun if I may say so, made me roll my eyes and almost pass over it. Luckily I was bored so I took the time to read the inside blurb. Intrigued me enough to take it for a spin. LOVED IT.Hardinge has a wonderful way with words, but most importantly, her characters are real. They're flawed, they're complex, they change through the course of the book, and they're not perfect. They're interesting. Unique.Verdigris Deep a.k.a Well Witched (blechh) is a story about the power of wishes, the truth about wishes, the terrible, horrific, self-destructive consequences that wanting them can cause. It's at times deliciously creepy, vividly poetic, and satisfyingly complex (despite it being a "children's" novel). I think people underestimate children's ability to grow in terms of comprehension and literacy. We aren't doing them any favors simplifying literature, dumbing things down so that they're interested, so that they're more comfortable reading at "their level." Shouldn't we be challenging them to always keep growing, improving?In any case, this book is a wonderful example of what children should be reading: writing that fires the imagination, inspires thoughtfulness, and encourages a love of words and the wonderful things you can do with them.Side Note: Another book title fallen victim to dumbification: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone a.k.a Sorcerer's Stone.

  • Veronique
    2018-08-28 15:09

    3.5“Making a wish is like saying, 'I can't deal with anything, I give up, somebody bigger come along and solve it all instead"This was one creepy read! Hardinge puts together one hell of a story, using usual horror tropes as well as creating her own ones. Who ever thought that trolleys could be menacing!!!! Although the plot was sound, and the characters interesting, it took me half the book to finally get involved. Not entirely sure why that is either. However, after that point, I couldn't stop. This did coincide with Ryan's behaviour to a certain extent. (view spoiler)[Now that I think about this, could it be that his 'passivity' in the first half affects the reader in some way, making us passive too? But that when he changes his perspective, all of a sudden, the narration picks up too. Maybe.(hide spoiler)]On the other hand, Hardinge's writing style was of course spellbinding. She has a very unique way of seeing the world and translating this into her writing, crafting descriptions that are both beautiful and arresting. After seeing the same metaphors and similes used time after time into cliches, it really makes you stop and re-appreciate the world when an author succeeds at giving you a new way to see. I shall definitely be reading more of her books.

  • Heidi
    2018-09-06 15:12

    Making a wish is like saying, ‘I can’t deal with anything, I give up, somebody bigger come along and solve it all instead.’Ryan, Josh, and Chelle miss their last bus home when hanging out in Magwhite, the village they only frequent because it is forbidden by their parents. They’ll do just about anything to make it home without having to call anyone, even if it means wrangling up some extra change to buy tickets for another bus line. Short on money and options, Josh descends into the local wishing well and crawls back out carrying enough change to pay their way home. Soon the kids learn they’ve done anything but take the easy way out as each of them begins to take on some unsettling powers. Unsure if they’re radioactive, crazy, or just plain unlucky, they realize that they didn’t just take change from the well, they took people’s wishes, and those wishes need granting.My initial notes for Well Witched state how whimsical and jaunty it feels–how different from Gullstruck Island. And then this happened:That’s when I remembered that behind the veneer of charming metaphors and the unexpected personification of shopping carts lies Frances Hardinge’s ability to dig under your skin and inject you with emotions you never anticipated when picking up this book. I’ve read Frances Hardinge before, and she still manages to blindside me–and yes, creep me out just a bit. I feel I was lulled into complacency by the cutesy US title ‘Well Witched‘ when the slightly ominous and mysterious ‘Verdigris Deep‘ suits the story much better. I suppose the publishers thought young American children wouldn’t pick up a book containing a word in the title they had little to no chance of knowing, but I like to think that young readers are attracted to the challenge of the unknown. I, for one, will now never forget that the term ‘verdigris’ applies to that bluish tarnish that will appear on copper, brass, or bronze after a period of time. Like the Statue of Liberty, or, like coins down a wishing well.Well Witched is, at its core, a story of human nature. I was astounded as I read, realizing just how well Frances Hardinge understands people. Who they are, what they want, what they really want under all of that wanting…And, of course, it is a story of wishes. I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume we’ve all heard the expression ‘Be careful what you wish for.’, and that we also could all recount a handful of tales demonstrating the truth of those words. Well Witched, however, isn’t the story of wishers, it’s the story of those who make them come true.There is Chelle, helpless, cowardly, and lacking the ability to stay quiet. She looks to her two friends for everything, including permission to form whatever thoughts and opinions will be approved of. There is Josh, who was their salvation. He is a year older, with a humor and fearlessness that would leave him in charge of any situation with all those around him seeking his approval. And then, there is Ryan. Ryan who has always seen the world in an “upside-down” sort of manner, and seeks to see things in as many different ways as possible so as to never be taken by surprise. Chelle wants to be helpful and needed, Josh wants to be in control, and Ryan mostly just wants to understand.Well Witched is told in the third person over the shoulder perspective, entirely from Ryan’s point of view. Through him we see the chilling horror of lines blurring between nightmare and reality, and the desperation to hold onto what you care about. Even when holding on means changing so much of who you let yourself be, growing, and seeing the reality in others. I love that nobody really changes throughout the course of Well Witched, they only become more on the outside who they were on the inside–or maybe we’re slowly infected with Ryan’s upside-down way of viewing the world and can begin to see everyone differently. We realize that parents are just people too, and that our heroes are only human, and that it can be very confusing trying to determine what a person really wants when they make a simple wish.Well Witched was a harrowing adventure story, but it is the underlying feeling it gave me that I will remember long after I’ve returned the book to its shelf. It focuses on friendship, child-parent relationships, and the darker side of people in ways that are rarely examined in Middle Grade literature. It is fun, fantastical, and unexpectedly chilling.Frances Hardinge has a way of hooking together words from the English language that makes me feel as if everyone else has been doing it wrong. Quite frankly, I couldn’t recommend her books more.Originally reviewed at Bunbury in the Stacks.

  • Dancebeneaththestars
    2018-09-03 14:15

    3.5! Overall I enjoyed this book. I think I would have liked it a whole lot more when I was younger. My kids are definitely getting a new book to add to their shelves! I think they will love it. 🙌It deals with a lot of problems to do with growing up, example: Just going along with what the more dominant friends says, until they become a crutch. Until you don't dare do anything unless it's their plan. It was nice to see Ryan and Chelle (mains) become more their own. To say 'no this is wrong, we have to do something, lets fix it, or try to.'It also shows that people get angry about things they can't control, they take their anger out on people who don't deserve it just because they have what they want. Sad but true.I loved that the wishes had an undercurrent, a 'what they thought they wished for' and a 'what they wished for underneath' it was certainly something to think about. Say you wished for world peace but underneath it you wanted friends. which wish would get granted?Hardinge's books all have a dark tone which I love, I always have done. sometimes I find it falling a bit flat though, which is why I said I would I have liked it more when I was younger. Taste changes, My level of darkness has gone up. As a Eleven year old I would have been reading this getting a bit freaked out, maybe. At my age now, not so much. I can sense the darkness, I can feel the vibe, I just can't taste it. Which is a must when reading a book of this nature. But again, I'm not the age it's meant for. I'm going to wait a while and read it to my kids and see what they think. I will then update this review with their thoughts. When it came to the end, I found myself asking what was the point in it all? - Other than the standard 'dealing with growing up questions' - Which isn't a question I like to ask myself! It was a fun, weird read but that was all. The characters held the draw, it was like the plot was just to add something more to the characters. Or this is how I felt.I adored Ryan's parents, I could not stop laughing each time they appeared. I would gladly read a book all about them! Hardinge knows people that's for sure, her characters are all so real, which is the most important thing for me so I would 100% recommend this book just for that alone.

  • Amanda
    2018-09-07 11:21

    3.5 stars.

  • Wealhtheow
    2018-09-21 13:08

    Ryan is introverted and young for his grade. Chelle talks in a never ending stream of babble. They feel humbly grateful when the new kid, rich, self-possessed, impossible to embarrass or discomfit, takes a shine to each of them. Together they form an inseparable trio, having what seem like thrilling adventures (hiding away a teacher's bike helmet, taking a bus to a bad part of town, etc). But these low-stakes shenanigans take a darker turn after Josh steals money from a wishing well to get bus fare. The spirit of the well grants each of them powers and demands they grant all the wishes left behind in the well. Josh, Chelle, and Ryan try, but some people's wishes aren't really what they want, or were never what they wanted, or should never ever be granted. Enthused by his purpose and new poltergeist-like powers, Josh intends to grant every wish, no matter how dangerous, but for the first time, Ryan and Chelle stand up to him. But the well spirit will not be denied...This was fabulous. Ryan, Chelle, and Josh each felt fully realized, just like kids I've been or known, and their relationships with each other were wonderfully believable and recognizable. There are all these wonderful little details about who calls who, and the kinds of jokes they habitually tell, and that sort of thing, that made their friendship feel almost like a character itself. Even their families are fleshed out, particularly Ryan's. Characters are introduced as those witty one-sentence descriptions that Roald Dahl or JK Rowling are so good at (Of Ryan's father: "You often got the feeling that he was sharing a clever joke with somebody you couldn't see, picking the words most likely to amuse them." Or "Miss Gossamer always reminded Ryan of a mummified cat he had once seen in a museum...The cat had looked half starved, but with a shocked, sleepy, supercilious look."). But they don't remain one line characters, and I loved seeing behind the curtain for each of them.The magic is strange, mysterious, and creepy. Figuring out what the well witch wants, and what to do to about it, requires elliptical thinking, grit, and research into old myths and old hurts. All my favorite things! This felt like a modern Edward Eager or Diana Wynne Jones story. I was so happy to read it.

  • Mely
    2018-09-26 17:15

    Three kids steal coins from a wishing well for bus fare and discover they have received strange powers in order to grant the wishes of the people who dropped the coins.This starts off as a fairly conventional kids-encounter-strangeness adventure -- it reminded me most of early Diana Wynne Jones (Wilkin's Tooth, The Ogre Downstairs, Eight Days of Luke), but comparisons to E. Nesbit and Edward Eager are probably closer to the mark. A little slow, but clever turns of phrase and the occasional gorgeous description. Then it turns into The Time of the Ghost and obviously I like it much better. It's hard to discuss in detail without spoilers, but the power behind the well is numinous and awful and modern and ancient in exactly the right ways, and the emotional developments -- among the three kids, their families, the people they help -- are compelling and complicated (if occasionally predictable for those of us who are no longer twelve).Also, the menacing shopping carts are hilarious and indescribably horrifying. As brilliant as the toffee slugs in The Ogre Downstairs.I don't love it quite as much as I love DWJ, but (a) it's only her second book; (b) I'm not discovering her as an adolescent and it's harder for books to go so deep for me now -- but honestly I haven't read a new book which reminded me so much of DWJ's work -- while still indisputably doing its own thing -- since Owl in Love.US edition has been horribly re-titled Well Witched and also has UK vocabulary edited out because apparently American kids are too dumb to realize "shopping trollies" = "shopping carts". I am glad I got my ebook from Kobo, which for some reason is carrying the UK editions. I may also have to get a paper copy to love.

  • Steph
    2018-08-30 17:59

    It's not often I still wish I was teaching in the classroom, but this book made me wish it. I wanted to be able to share this story with a group of children, see their reactions and hear their predictions. The story line is fantastical and gripping. The language is lyrical. And any author that makes James Bond related metaphors is a winner in my book!

  • Helen
    2018-09-07 15:16

    Another enjoyable read by Hardinge.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2018-09-08 13:04

    So, this book.My last Frances Hardinge (woe).Kind of blew my mind away.But at first, it totally threw me. I started reading it and was all like what is this? Because this is the only Hardinge that is not set in a secondary world. It is the only Hardinge set in our own contemporary world. It is the only Hardinge that has a boy protagonist. It is the only Hardinge that is more Horror than Fantasy:Three friends Ryan, Chelle and Josh find themselves without their bus fare home and daredevil Josh climbs down the local Wishing Well to collect some of its coins to pay for their journey. Then weird things start to happen. Ryan gets warts on his hands – warts that turn out to be eyes that give him second sight. Chelle starts to broadcast other people’s thoughts, uncontrollably babbling out loud what they are thinking. Josh affects the magnetic fields around him giving him power over metal and electronics. In the meantime, Ryan also starts dreaming about a terrifying figure and that’s when it hits them that what they stole were wishes and now the spirit of the well expects them to grant those, aided by their new powers.At first, things seem easy enough. A guy wants a Harley Davidson, let’s get him one. A girl wants to hook up with the person she is in love with, let’s get them together.But soon the kids realise that wishes are not as straightforward as that because sure, the guy might wish for a Harley Davidson, but what he really wants is to be cool. And how can they possibly ascertain those different layers? And what happens when someone wishes for something negative to happen to their enemies?Just then, things get really out of hand when Josh starts to enjoy his powers a bit too much.Verdigris Deep might sound like the Odd One Out among Hardinge’s bibliography but it’s not really. There is the awesome concept, just like her other books. There is the cleverness of the plot, the creativity of the story and the refusal to pander to children. The love for language shines through and oh my God, how could I not be completely head over heels in love with how language finds new highs in her books: Some ten yards away, Ryan stood there stupidly holding a carrier bag full of canned sweetcorn while he watched the continents of his world collide and the stars fall out of the sky. Almost involuntarily he started counting through the Fibonacci sequence in his head to keep himself sane. One, two, three, five, eight…Today the numbers failed him. The way they built up only seemed an echo of what was happening before him, where every bitter sentence added to the last to make something bigger and worse.Bliss.Although in a way this does feel like more of an internalised story. Her other books deal with characters growing up in the middle of revolutions or in grandiose, extravagant settings and as such, internal and external conflicts develop side by side.In Verdigris Deep , the story is informed by the three characters and the powers they gain are granted according to their personalities.Popular, energetic but unloved Josh gets the most flashy of the powers, the one that allows him to ascertain more control over those around him. Both Ryan and Chelle worship Josh to the point of blindness even as he is cruel and unsympathetic.Chelle is insecure and shy and kind of the outsider in the group, always babbling away even though the others never pay attention to what she says. At one point, Josh cruelly refers to her as the coleslaw of the group – a side dish that you eat up but don’t really care for.Ryan is the focal character and he is quiet and lonely, never saying what he really wants or means. His narrative starts off as unsympathetic, detached and even a little bit callous when describing the people around him.The story progresses as the powers they have gained help Ryan developing a great degree of self-awareness. The realisation about the hero-worship behind his relationship with Josh as well as his own capacity for cruelty (after all, doesn’t he also think of Chelle as the coleslaw?) are only part of how the relationships and the characters are deconstructed, pulled apart and then built up again with sympathy and compassion.In spite of all of the hijinks, the fear and the creepy factor of the novel as the kids get more and more involved with the Spirit of the Well, this is much more of an understated, quiet novel. Because this is a book that is much more about the microcosm than the macro, it doesn’t end in Revolution or Change with capital letters in quite the same way that Hardinge’s other books do. But it is still in many ways, a book about revolution and change just as much because in the end, the kids’ lives have been altered, bettered and they have grown up. It is a very emotional, touching and humane story.So basically, what I am saying is: Frances Hardinge is right now, my favourite writer. Let her career be a long and prosperous one.

  • Aldi
    2018-09-16 12:58

    Whenever I read a Frances Hardinge book, I find myself wishing they'd been around when I was a kid. I still adore them now but kid!me would have lived in her worlds. They're so bonkers and magical and creepy and weird in the best way. They're also never simple - no easy solutions, no dumbed-down shit for younger audiences. They're mad and clever and scary and fascinating and acknowledge that kids are complex and dealing with lots of challenging issues. This was no exception - well-drawn characters and relationships, a deliciously sinister plot*, and her usual knack for snarky, gripping writing. Lovely.(*Between this, The Ring and Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, I'm pretty sure I can never go near a well ever again *shuddertwitch*)

  • Kate
    2018-09-25 14:03

    Wow. The most ambitious children's book I have read in a while, and the most successful at meeting those ambitions. Hardinge skillfully blends a sense of creeping supernatural menace with astute psychological realism that makes the fantastical elements more grounded and thereby more plausible and frightening. The scariest part of the book is seeing the effect on Josh of his new supernatural abilities; when combined with an underlying resentment at being neglected by his adoptive parents, his growing powers exacerbate the worst aspects of his personality. Hardinge never talks down to her audience, setting up circumstances that allow Ryan to realize some profound truths about the sources of human discontent and the danger of hero worship without any hint of didacticism. The plotting is superb; I was impressed by the way that disparate strands came together fluidly, with the pace never flagging. I had a few nitpicks with the speed at which the flooding became dangerous at the end, and the final scene with the well witch moved too quickly for me to buy her transformation, but overall, the connections between the wishers felt satisfying rather than overly coincidental. (I did wonder about Josh's aunts in Merrybells -- I thought that they would end up playing a role a la Miss Gossamer, and was confused by their presence in the book and their effect on Josh without some kind of connection to the well witch.) An author who deals beautifully with character, plot, and theme is rare enough, but Hardinge is also just a gorgeous writer. Hardinge's characters may be thinking things you have thought before, but she states those thoughts with such grace, power, and clarity that you envy their insight and perspective. And even minor descriptions are worthy of great sentences and metaphors. For example, I loved this description of Chelle's mom: "She had big, vague eyes, and a big, vague smile, and was always very busy in the way that a moth crashing about in a lampshade is busy" (29). Other sentences that are jumping out at me as I page through: "Josh gave a grin as hard as glass" (384), "The bus's engine gave a long, exasperated sigh and shrugged its weight forward, as if hulking its shoulders against the rain" (1), "She had an air of kitten-tottering helplessness, and the pallor of her hair and skin made her look as if she had been through the wash too many times, losing her color and courage in the rinse" (6). You can tell I like metaphors! Looking back now, the metaphor of a wish as a conker shell is made right in the first chapter; that image returns later on when Ryan realizes how wishes have outer shells and inner nuts of truth. Yes another reason for me to admire Hadinge's writing and the thoughtful construction of the novel as a whole. It's always exciting to find an author into whose oeuvre you cannot wait to dive!

  • Kaethe
    2018-09-12 18:04

    I picked it up and put it back down, because I already had another Hardinge in the stack at home, and why be greedy. And then, the Possum came along and saw it, and she checked it out.2009 March 24***I started reading this to the Possum last night. Too early to have much of an opinion, although I like the idea of the two little kids being picked on and finding comfort in friendship with one another and a boy one year older.2009 March 25***The Possum preferred not to carry on.2009 March 26***Oh, my how I love Hardinge. Realistic setting, likable but not perfect or stereotyped kids, believable parents, and crazy plots. I'm impressed with what she brought to the traditional children-granted-wishes-that-turn-out-wrong story. But even more impressive is her focus on friendship among kids, and how unexamined those friendships tend to be. I'd pass this to the reader who's been through Five children and it and Half Magic.I can't wait to read more Hardinge.2009 December 16

  • Saphana
    2018-09-09 15:11

    In the U.S. edition this is another book title fallen victim to dumbification. Verdigris Deep is the U.K. title and I should very much have loved if -for once- the U.S. market hadn’t felt the need to rename this book to Well Witched; because that’s the weakest pun, like, ever and it discredits the depth of the book. Or so I think.The book is about a well. And a witch. Or rather, a god. Plotwise at least. But if you go a little deeper on the verdigris, it’s about wishes, their many layers, their power and their consequences. The full spectrum of which can be lovely, devastating or even disastrous. Hardinge leaves nothing out here. The book is sometimes creepy, sometimes very poetic and always, always complex. Well above the level of YA-complex.Hardinge has a very prosaic style and -as always- her characters are real, flawed, they’re complex, they change through the course of the book, and they’re not perfect. They’re interesting. Unique. This goes especially for Chelle, who might experience most of the change; both for herself and in the view of her friends. It’s exceptionally well made.

  • Zen Cho
    2018-08-30 18:15

    THIS WAS SO GOOD. It was a standard "British kids find magical thing, are led into adventures", like Five Kids And It, but turned up to eleven. I highlighted a lot of turns of phrase just because I liked them so much. I huddled in bed and whimpered in fear and wished I hadn't read it so late at night, in an unfamiliar room. I went to sleep at 4 am.The detail really makes it -- setting, it's all in the setting. It's just really funny and magic and scary and real, and it keeps raising and raising the stakes.I was really surprised by this. I read Fly By Night and wasn't that impressed, so I wouldn't have picked this up if I hadn't come across an interesting positive review of it. I'm definitely going to go back and look at Hardinge's other books.It's just SO GOOD!!

  • Franny
    2018-09-26 18:20

    (My reviews are intended for my own info as a language arts teacher: they serve as notes and reflections for teaching and recommending to students. Therefore, spoilers may be present but will be hidden.)SUMMARY: I am in the minority of being pretty much meh about this one. Don't get me wrong - Frances Hardinge can turn a phrase like few other authors I've encountered. And there are some real moments of brilliance in Well Witched. But overall I had a tough time sticking with this one and following everything the author threw at me. Well Witched has an odd but genius main conflict: Tweens Ryan, Josh, and Chelle steal coins from a well and unwittingly awaken a witch who forces them to grant the wishes, however bad or impossible, attached to the stolen coins. To assist with the wish granting, each kid is given (or rather, cursed with) a set of powers. Ryan grows weird warts on his hand that turn out to be eyeballs. Through the novel, they help him see in the dark and communicate with the lady of the well (and probably other things, but I've already forgotten). Chelle speaks aloud the thoughts of the wishers when she comes in close proximity to them, which helps the three figure out what was originally wished. And Josh gains electromagnetic powers to literally bend things to his will. At first, making others' wishes come true goes fairly smoothly. Ryan, Josh, and Chelle help Will Wruthers win a Harley motorcycle and bring unlikable Donna Leas together with her crush. But they soon realize that the witch is not letting them go anytime soon. Ryan and Chelle also become alarmed with their growing unnatural abilities. Josh, though, is not ready to give up his new role of having such power over others. The intensity builds as the three are faced with increasingly ominous wishes and no clear way out. Frances Hardinge, as other reviewers are quick to point out, has a knack for clever description. Here are a couple of my favorites: - "He had formed an alliance of desperation with Chelle. She had an air of kitten-tottering helplessness, and the pallor of her hair and skin made her look as if she had been through the wash too many times, losing her color and courage in the rinse" (6). - "People's personalities took up space, he sometimes thought. When they were trapped in a house or a job or a school together, they rubbed up against each other, squeaked like balloons, and made sparks. Ryan's parents both had large, gleaming, hot-air-balloon personalities. Sometimes it was hard to fit them into the same house, and Ryan had learned the art of suddenly making himself take up less space, demand less, so that his parents were not chafing against each other as much" (92). So yeah, she's pretty good. Some of the description, though, was a little perplexing and the layers of complexity added to the plot were, I thought, too many and too much. Ryan's Glass House dreams, in which he encounters the well witch, are beyond bizarre. I had a tough time keeping track of characters, too, because they kept popping in and out of the story. I don't know, I just think there is such a thing as having too many quirks in a book, especially one marketed to young teens. I landed on three stars because the final 100 pages or so are super intense and scary. (view spoiler)[When Ryan realizes that Josh is going to try to kill his mom...and he's the only one home...and he sees Josh outside, standing in the middle of a storm...and the lights go out...and stuff starts flying around the room?! O. M. G. One of the best-written genuinely frightening scenes I've read in a YA/middle grade novel. (hide spoiler)] Also, possessed shopping carts. Loved. READABILITY: As stated above, I just thought some of Well Witched was confusing. I can't really identify specific parts that lost me, but I had to reread often. Even though the main characters are eleven and twelve, I think the writing style and some of the creepier scenes in the book would be better suited to older readers (even adults who enjoy YA). I don't love Lexile (read: hate it), but it rates Well Witched at a 930. This is still probably low, but a higher number than most middle grade fiction receives.APPROPRIATENESS: There's nothing inappropriate in this one, but some of the scary stuff may be too much for elementary-age readers.

  • Alexandra
    2018-09-11 18:05

    I read this as Verdigris Deep, which I understand is the UK title. What, Americans don't know fancy names for rust?I have had this sitting on my TBR pile for ages, and given how much I adore Hardinge it doesn't make sense it took me so long to pick it up. Oh well, water under the bridge... heh... Anyway, I went in expecting a rollicking adventure like Fly by NIght. After all, how bad could it be to take coins from a wishing well, right? And even if there is a spirit in there who doesn't like being stolen from, how bad can it be? And if she decides that you need to help her in fulfilling some of the wishes, that can't go badly, can it? Especially if she gives you some shiny powers to aid you in that effort?Yeah. This book was way darker than I had expected. On reflection Mosca Mye's adventures weren't all sunshine and skittles either, but I don't think I ever actually feared for her life, or that Saracen the goose would end up in a pie (much as he might have deserved it). Nor did Mosca ever end up with eyes growing on her knuckles. Josh, Ryan and Chelle sneak off to a village they're not meant to visit, and they miss the last bus their tickets will get them home on. To get more money for tickets, Josh goes down a wishing well. Over the next couple of days, all three children discover that weird things are happening: Ryan is growing weird itchy wart-things on his knuckles, Chelle can't stop herself from randomly spouting what seems like nonsense, and Josh is making light bulbs blow and phones go staticky. Naturally, with some experimentation and a weird dream experience for Ryan, they discover this is connected to their theft from the well and they have now been press-ganged into granting wishes, with powers to help. Fun, eh?Of course, we all know that wishes are - as Ryan describes it - a bit like conkers. There's the outside bit that you can see, but then there's the inside bit - the meaty bit - that's often darker, and spikier, and not so speak-out-loud. But the spirit in the well knows that bit, too. Things get out of control. Of course. There's adventure - some exhilarating and some terrifying - and some occasions of just sheer terror for Ryan, our point of view character, in particular. As with the best stories there's more than one level of problems to be dealt with, and I've rarely read a YA/kids' book where parental arguments are shown quite so realistically, along with the child's reaction. Also the fact that your parents aren't necessarily going to get along with your friends' parents, although that was mostly just funny. Adolescent friendship and its highs, lows, difficulties, competition, and hierarchy is treated very tenderly: Hardinge pulls no punches but does allow her characters to develop over just a few days in reaction to their circumstances. I'm quite sure most people will recognise aspects of Ryan, Chelle and Josh's little clique, and not necessarily with rosy memories either.As for other characters... there's also a mean old lady who was, on reflection, actually treated rather poorly - she was certainly nasty but probably didn't deserve quite the ending she got - and a nice young lady whose agoraphobia wasn't explored in great detail but was treated with sympathy. There are five parents between the three children, which is rather a change from your classic YA where the parents are got rid of or otherwise not involved in the story; Ryan's parents are very present in much of the story, and they get to be appropriately complex. And the spirit in the well - I won't say much because I don't want to spoil it, but I was really impressed with the context Hardinge develops, and especially with the ultimate resolution. Look, I read this in an afternoon. It's utterly absorbing and gloriously written.

  • Raina
    2018-09-04 13:23

    Creepy, like Coraline (especially the eyes in the hands). There's a reason you're not supposed to steal from wishing wells...I really liked the character development of two of the children, as well as the depth of meaning behind what people wish for. Also the exploration of how witches/ancient powers can become dated. Never completely pulled me in, but was interesting all the way through.Read with Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Into the Wild (Durst)Favorite quote, which in context, is hilarious: "He had an idea that the Coopers might have sounded rather different if Miss Gossamer had told them that Chelle was a telepathic demon child." (pg. 221)Probably a spoiler, but not really - skip if you care...Awesome description of the well-witch: "She sat enthroned amid the fanned roots of an enormous overturned tree. The roots knobbed and knuckled, and among them were wedged weird trophies. A child's pink Wellington boot choked with ivy, a hiking stick that had sprouted and given bud, the skull of a cat. A hundred bent cigarette butts smoked gently like incense sticks in a church shrine. A bent bicycle wheel spun slowly and unevenly behind her head, a halo for a strange saint. Her gown was studded with fragments of gold foil, punctured in crude patterns, and there was a tarnished, twisted collar of copper wire around her neck. It was easiest to look at her hands. They were thick and strange, with lichen-green knuckles and heavy nails that might have been chipped out of dun-yellow quartz. They drew their fingers over and through the wild strawberry plant that trembled in her lap as if it was a pet." - pg 216-17

  • Rachel
    2018-09-10 11:10

    It is Josh's idea to filch coins from the Magwhite wishing well, but as usual sweet-meaning chatterbox Chelle and quietly precocious Ryan are dragged along for the misguided misdemeanor -- and ensuing adventure.So begins Hardinge's eagerly anticipated (by me, at least) second novel, set this time in the "real world" of modern England. I sped happily through the book's first half, relishing Hardinge's keen observational humor and fresh cast of eccentric characters. Hardinge remains charming and witty as ever, and though I was unused at first to Verdigris' more mundane world (ours), this was probably the best direction to go in after Fly By Night. The realistic setting allows Hardinge to better explore the emotional arcs of her characters and makes the onset of magical forces later in the book that much creepier. Thus, while Verdigris does not attain the brilliance of Fly By Night, nor its characters send even a tremor towards Eponymous Clent's immortal pedestal, I was captivated, emotionally and otherwise, in a way I will not soon forget. Verdigris, while not as spirited and imaginative as a first novel, was a creepier and in some ways more sophisticated work. I feel like Hardinge is growing as a writer, and that makes me very exicted. A last note: I assume the title change from "Verdigris Deep" to "Well-Witched" was a request of Hardinge's American publishers, and I rather resent the swap. The original title better conveys the dark and mysterious themes of the book, especially towards the conclusion.

  • Lenna • Sugar Dusted Pages
    2018-09-13 18:18

    We always find it difficult to forgive our heroes for being human.It's official. Frances Hardinge is my favorite author. And that is saying a lot. Every time I read one of her books I become completely immersed in her world. Her writing is so vivid and so deep, for lack of a better word. In Verdigris Deep (no, it is not called Well Witched. That title and that cover are abominations.) each character is flawed and complex. I love how Ryan and Chelle, but Ryan in particular, grow throughout the book. They learn more about themselves and others. They become stronger. They develop into, well, them. And Josh is fascinating. What caused him to do what he did? Is it his family life? His personality? A mix of the two? And the sunglasses played into the story so subtly and so wonderfully. This setting is not like Hardinge's others. It is more contemporary, but still has fantastical elements, and I'll admit I wasn't too excited for this one. It's her second book ever, and I was worried it just wouldn't be as good. I needn't have worried. The magic is strange and wonderful, just like always. The ending was touching. And it made me think, which is always a plus. I hear she's writing another book to be published this fall. It. Cannot. Come. Soon. Enough.

  • Hemannt
    2018-09-24 14:10

    I decided to read this book when it caught my eye when I was going through the books in the library. The book cover was very bright.I read the blur and the book got attention straight away. Also my friend told me to read this book and this person reads alot of books so that helped me to decide to read this book.I enjoyed reading this book as it kept me in suspense and mystery. At the end of every chapter there was something that made me want to read on. The book took me on a adventure and at times i could sympathise and feel what the character felt.The thing I didn't like about this book was that the dialogs were too long and that the characters talked too much.I learnt from this book that you should never go down in a well and steal the coins that are in the bottom of the well. I found the main character interesting as he was shy and unlike other books the main character in this book in much of the action in the story, I found this interesting as this was from a different perspective. The main character's name was Ryan, but he always relied on another character. He was an interesting person because he was about my age and I could easily relate to him. I liked the place in the book. It was the woods, whenever the characters were in the woods the book got very interesting.

  • Rosie
    2018-09-09 16:23

    This was another book that I read for the Garden State Teen Book Awards. While the plot seemed a little odd at times, Well Witched was very interesting and took many twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. The story revolves around three best friends, Ryan, Josh, and Chelle who receive special powers to grant wishes after they steal coins out of an old well. Based on this plot line, I was surprised at the complexity of the book. Hardinge intertwines many complex issues such as divorce, friendship, and identity into her well crafted fantasy novel. In addition to these issues, all of the seemingly simple wishes also have a surprising twist. While the complexity of these elements give the story a smart edge to it, there are some references that I think may go over kids’ heads. One small example is when in a moment of stress one of the characters runs through the Fibonacci Sequence without really giving any detail to what the Fibonacci Sequence actually is. Despite this small flaw, Hardinge creates realistic characters in this fantasy story that kids will be able to relate to.

  • Res
    2018-09-23 13:09

    The one where three kids take some coins out of a wishing well and discover that they're now responsible for granting wishes. And then things get out of hand.This is a kids' adventure story, but it's better than the usual for two reasons. First, it avoids some of the most annoying cliches of the genre. The kids' families and home lives are complex and not predictable; yes, they don't tell their parents, but mostly they have good reason (and in Chelle's case it may be that she tells and nobody listens); and rather than the annoyingly black-and-white morality that you usually find in kids' books, this one allows even the people who do wrong to find their places in the end. And second, the language is terrific, full of unusual and apt turns of phrase and beautiful comparisons (Chelle's mother is described as busy like a moth bumping around inside a lampshade). Well Witched is apparently the same book under a different title.

  • Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
    2018-08-31 11:00

    A real-world setting doesn't hamper Hardinge's eye for strangeness and magic in this tale of a wishing-well spirit run amok and the children who unwittingly fall under her spell. While the other two novels I've read by her focus on a young girl protagonist, this one has an ensemble of characters at its heart - the quiet, timid Ryan, outgoing, brash Josh and the flaky Chelle. Their families also form an important part of the story, especially Ryan's. The language, imagery and integrity of this novel are outstanding. Hardinge commits to her story and doesn't pull punches, showing us her characters as the flawed beings they are, even if we can't help but root for them. I thought the ending was perhaps a shade too easy, but I appreciate that she doesn't simply weave a happy ever after for everyone, although she does leave her main characters closer to happiness than before, for the most part.

  • Daria
    2018-09-05 12:16

    A little more mundane than the usual Hardinge stock (and by mundane I mean gods that lurk at the bottoms of soggy wells and have shopping cart minions) and, oddly enough, scarier (children control things with their brains and sprout eyes from between their knuckles). It's another lovely little delivery from Hardinge, and one against whose setting I hold no grudge. (Many seem to have been ever so disappointed about Well Witched's inabilities to live up to Fly by Night simply because, well, neither Mandelion nor Eponymous Clent play a part in it. Fie, I say.) The book's deliciously à la Coraline at times, ever witty, ever observant, effectively evoking every feeling it intends, whose dissimilar, exciting plot points and characters come together in the end with the neat swoop and elegant flourish that is ever the signature of a master wordsmith.

  • Saima Nisbet
    2018-08-30 14:20

    This one of Frances Hardinge does read as if it's intended for children under 14, less than "A Face Like Glass" did, but that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. The story was captivating though and quite spooky. Three children with a complicated friendship who get themselves ensnared in the employ of a god of a local well full of wished coins. The traits of humanity explored through those wishes and through their friendship was done well, without being too moralistic and trite. Apparently it was her debut and having read two of her other books, I like her style and consider the aforementioned "A Face Like Glass" my favourite, so far...

  • Book Elf
    2018-09-07 11:23

    Creepy. This book gave me goosebumps. I was almost afraid of sleeping because I might have same nightmares. The book is unique. I liked how it was written, the pacing was okay too. I like stories about the battle between good and bad in a juvenile's mind, and eventually the good prevails. The story has something like that and one's mind corrupted with power too. And a story about not giving up on a friend. I liked that. I liked this quote from the book: "But...even with all the bad stuff, he was still my friend. And if your friend's drowning, even if he's trying to drown and struggling to shake your hand off his sleeve, you don't let go, do you?"

  • Miss
    2018-09-16 13:11

    the one about three kids who take coins out of a wishing well and are compelled to grant its wishes. things escalate. this is somewhere between horror and fantasy, set in the real world. it got a lot creepier then i expected it would to its benefit. probably this is evidence that i ought to have listened to all the people telling me to read more frances hardinge years ago; she reminds me a bit of diana wynne jones.4 stars