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WELL WITCHED by Frances Hardinge


by Frances Hardinge

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: June 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-088038-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

A fascinating premise, atmospheric description and a collection of quirky characters combine in this British import. Bullied by their peers, 11-year-old Ryan and his friend Chelle are happy to tag after charismatic older boy Josh. Then one of Josh’s ideas goes awry and the kids find themselves stranded. Stealing a few coins from a wishing well for bus fare seems like a good idea until each of them develops an odd ability: Chelle can read other people’s thoughts, Josh shorts out—and then controls—electrical equipment and Ryan develops wart-like eyes on his hands. The setup takes its time, deliberately introducing unfamiliar place names and apparently irrelevant background information. Eventually, Hardinge ties together Ryan’s recurring nightmares, the unusual behavior of an elderly friend of Chelle’s family and the source of Josh’s hostility, moving events along to a watery and authentically chilling resolution. Adult characters are well-drawn but it is the children themselves who figure out the nature of the spell that affects them and, more importantly, how to free themselves from it. Vivid and imaginative. (Fiction. 10-14)