skygiants: Koizumi Kyoko from Twentieth Century Boys making her signature SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED face (wtf is this)
[personal profile] skygiants
[ profile] shati and I sometimes play a game in bookstores when we look at the spines of YA books and attempt to guess genre/plot from the font of the title. We have a reasonable percentage of accuracy. However, we might have been thrown by the cover of Frances Hardinge's Well Witched.

If you look at this cover, you will probably think to yourself: oh, I know what this is! A cheery middle-grade novel about plucky kids who have comical, slightly spooky witching adventures!

You will probably not think to yourself: oh, I know what this is! This is a book in which an ill-advised wish leads to a woman getting trapped in her house going slowly insane, an elderly grandmother type attempts to murder a child by withholding her inhaler during an asthma attack, and a terrified eleven-year-old grows TINY CREEPY EYES ON HIS KNUCKLES.

Unless you do, in which case you are way better at guessing than I.

Uh, terror aside, I would actually really highly recommend this book! At the start, preteens Ryan, Chelle and Jack steal some coins from an old wishing well; the INCREDIBLY CREEPY being at the bottom of the well then compels them to fulfil the wish that goes with each coin. To help with this, Jack (a daredevil who wears Cool Glasses even when he doesn't need to) gets the power of manipulating electricity, Chelle (who talks so much that nobody ever listens to her) starts babbling out the thoughts of other people, and Ryan, the viewpoint character, gets the aforementioned CREEPY EYES ON HIS KNUCKLES. At first they are creeped out, but basically figure, hey, fulfilling wishes might be fun! Except, while fulfilling the bored soda fountain guy's wish for a Harley Davidson might be mostly made of hijinks, what about the people who wish for revenge, or for something that's bothering them to just disappear, or just to disappear themselves?

The book goes pretty dark pretty quickly - but at the same time, the real emphasis of the story is that even weak or damaged or hateful people deserve a chance to change and a change for happiness. Hardinge's books are full of flawed and complicated people. One of my favorites is Ryan's mother, who might not be exactly an awesome person - she's one of those celebrity stalkers who writes unauthorized biographies - but her flaws are also some of the same things that make her an amazing mom. I also really really love Chelle and Ryan's development; both of them are shy awkward kids with low self-esteem (that manifests itself in different ways) who rely on Jack to give them purpose and direction, and have to learn to stand on their own feet, which you know is one of my favorite things.

So basically: I totally encourage everyone to read it, but know what you are getting into; this is not fluff. Speaking of, if you guys have any particularly egregious stories about misleading book covers: share!

Date: 2010-06-04 03:57 pm (UTC)
silveraspen: silver trees against a blue sky background (burt who?)
From: [personal profile] silveraspen
Whaaaaat. *staring*

Oddly enough, I want to read that book now. Because it sounds like creepy fun!

Date: 2010-06-04 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My personal favorite is Diane Duane's Stealing the Elf-King's Roses (, which makes a sci-fi story about connected universes (and, well, elves, kind of) and magical lawyers look like the latest doofy Tolkien/Mercedes Lackey knock-off.

Date: 2012-08-01 05:07 pm (UTC)
katarik: Young Wizards: Juanita Callahan (Callahan Juanita L.)
From: [personal profile] katarik
Here from [personal profile] coffeeandink, and seconding the Elf-King's Roses rec; it is a fantastic standalone and I love it *to pieces*.

Date: 2010-06-04 06:34 pm (UTC)
agonistes: a house in the shadow of two silos shaped like gramophone bells (i'm on my way back to the old home)
From: [personal profile] agonistes
*sleevetugs timidly* how was dave rawlings machine

Date: 2010-06-04 10:44 pm (UTC)
agonistes: a house in the shadow of two silos shaped like gramophone bells (southerner with a chip)
From: [personal profile] agonistes
Aurals is good!

And fff I have to say I was SO CURIOUS to hear both what you thought about it and how it went over for an audience full of (presumably) Yankees and transplants. Because it really, really, really does make SO much difference in understanding how Americana in general and bluegrass in particular works when you can see what they do and how they do it, and Dave Rawlings Machine especially typifies how amateur bluegrass players play with each other at festivals, and I will save the tl;dr for somewhere else BUT IF YOU EVER WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT I am totally curious!

Date: 2010-06-04 09:36 pm (UTC)
aberration: Pabu from LoK taking a nap next to an old-fashioned radio. (and in the beginning)
From: [personal profile] aberration
This is the only book I've ever decided to read solely based on its cover.

Iiiii can't say the fact that it's pretty much just about two Hungarian guys talking came as much of a surprise.

Date: 2010-06-04 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This book is totally going on my TBR list.


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