Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Well Witched

Well Witched

Frances Hardinge
For ages 11 and up
HarperCollins, 2008   ISBN: 0060880384

It is a wet and chilly night and Josh, Ryan, and Chelle have just missed the bus back to their town. Not having enough money to pay for new tickets, the children try to find a way to make some money. In the end Josh climbs down a wishing well and he takes some of the money that people have thrown into the well over the years.

A week after the Magwhite well robbery Ryan begins to notice that some very strange things are going on. He sees his reflection in his bathroom mirror and something is very wrong with it – the eyes of his mirror reflection are closed. Then strange bumps start to grow between his knuckles and he sees that the bumps are eyes. Later Chell starts to speak in voices other than her own. The children begin to realize that what she is vocalizing the thoughts of other people. Somehow she is reading people's minds. Josh meanwhile has discovered that his presence can have a bizarre effect on anything electrical. Clearly stealing the money from the well has taken the three friends down a very peculiar road, and they are not sure what to do.

Awkwardly Josh, Ryan, and Chell begin to figure out what is happening to them. By stealing the money from the well they have taken on the responsibility of granting the wishes that people made when they threw their money into the well. The well demon has given them powers so that they can fulfill the wishes. Unfortunately she is a hard task master, and though the children try to find the people who made wishes, and give them what they want, things do not work out as planned. Ryan and Chell both want to give up, but Josh is enjoying the adventure. He likes his new power and learns how to manipulate it to suit his needs. Not only that, but Josh is willing to grant any wish, even if it means killing someone.

Beautifully written and packed with subtle imagery, this story not only looks at what can happen when you steal something from a supernatural being, but it also explores the nature of love, friendships, and balances of power. Always the underdog, Ryan admires and looks up to Josh – until he realizes that Josh is out of control. Then he has to find strength somewhere else, and he finds it in a most unexpected place. Inside himself.