*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: It’s the end of the world…
…as Murray Macabe knows it. The security of his home life has been ripped out from under him when his mother was brutally murdered. Rejected by his aunt, Murray only has one place left to go, and that’s to live the rest of his life with a woman he barely knows.
To Grandmother’s House He Goes
At first, life with his grandmother doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that bad, but Murray soon learns his grandmother harbors dark secrets.
Double, Double Toil and Trouble; Fire Burn and Caldron Bubble
As bad as Grandma’s secrets might be, they are nothing compared to the secrets held by the neighbors, three elderly women who have set their sights on Murray for their own dastardly purposes. Soon Murray finds himself fighting for his very life, and there’s no one to turn to for help because everyone knows there’s no such thing as witches.
The Witching Well is a horror adventure story aimed at teen or young adult readers.
The scare and disgust levels are not too high, although there is the (accidental) death of an animal, and some (reasonably undetailed) violence. There may be a trigger for some around the animal’s death as there is little sympathy for the creature, which is labelled ‘evil’, despite the blame for events (and the beast’s behaviour) lying firmly with the owner.
For the most part though, this is a neat and pacy mild horror read, following an orphaned boy as he comes to terms with the eccentricity of his new neighbours and uncovers that magic and witchery abound.
I was fascinated by the introduction of certain familial ‘powers’ and the strange bugs that breed in the street, and feel there is plenty more to explore here (perhaps the author intends a sequel set in the same vicinity?). There are mysteries and questions at every turn: what really happened to Murray’s mother? What will happen regarding Grandma Anna’s secret in the attic? Where did the mysterious boy come from?
Even by the ending there were questions that remained unanswered/unclear. I was convinced that there was a twist coming around Grandma Anna and Murray’s hidden abilities which didn’t appear, and I was somewhat confused about Cab’s final appearance. I would love to see Murray return to the Witching Well for another instalment, and perhaps uncover more about his past and family history.
I would recommend this for fans of horror mysteries that are not too gruesome or distressing: just some good, strange, scary fun!
Murray’s overactive imagination took hold. Butterflies fluttered in his belly. He wondered what Grandma Anna had in store. Thanks to films like The Changeling and Flowers in the Attic, he always considered the top floor the creepiest room in a house. At the same time, he expected it to be a dusty disaster area, cluttered wall to wall with antique junk and family heirlooms. His heart thumped with every step. The staircase wobbled under their weight, unaccustomed to supporting two people.
Grandma Anna paused, regarded Murray, and then pointed over her shoulder. “When this door is closed, that means I want to be alone. No disruptions whatsoever.”
Murray nodded with a furrowed brow. He bit his tongue as thoughts of Grandma Anna’s private goings-on prodded him.
She noted his confusion and added quickly, “When it’s open, you can come up here whenever you like. Understand?”
Grandma Anna turned and lifted the trap door. It creaked like a sealed coffin. She ascended the last few steps.
Murray anxiously followed in her shadow.
– S. D. Hintz, The Witching Well
The Witching Well is available on Amazon now.