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 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.
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Frances Hardinge is the celebrated author of Fly By night, Well Witched, and The Lost Conspiracy. She spent her childhood in Kent, England, in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and from an early age she wrote stories filled with magic and vivid characters. Ms. Hardinge studied at Oxford University, where she was a founding member of a writers' workshop. This is her fourth novel.From School Library Journal:
Starred Review. Grade 4–7—From the author of Fly by Night (HarperCollins, 2006) comes this contemporary fantasy. After Josh, Ryan, and Chelle steal coins out of a decrepit wishing well in a nearby village, they discover that they are now in the debt of the well witch, who expects them to serve her by fulfilling all the wishes made by people who have tossed coins into the well. At first they go along with the idea; having received special, if unnerving, powers from her, it's an intriguing challenge to make wishes come true. But some wishes are vengeful, misguided, or downright evil, leading Ryan and Chelle to finally stand firm against the angry witch. Josh, however, becomes swept up in his own increasing powers. There is an undercurrent of creepiness that runs through this story, whether it's the sinister, centuries-long influence of the malignant well witch or the ways that ordinary people can become warped, and many scenes and images are deliciously shiver-inducing. The tone is down-to-earth, quirky, and quietly witty, just like Ryan, whose intriguing perceptions of the people and things around him are a vital part of this book's appeal. Fans of dark fantasies such as Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002) will find this tale irresistible.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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