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by Catherine Chanter

4 stars

wellThe Well is a truly entrancing read. Once begun, I couldn’t let it go. I read it in three evenings. It spoiled more than one night’s sleep – but not because of the plot, because the plot is rather weak; I found most of it more than a bit hard to believe. The premise is borderline supernatural, though nothing else in Chanter’s semi-dystopian world is, but the curious anomaly of the rain falling in one small spot in the midst of a heinous drought is never explained or even the cause of much practical curiosity. And I was never convinced by Amelia’s hold over Ruth. The necessary degree of hypnotic, Manson-like charisma seemed entirely lacking in her. I found her immediately sinister and untrustworthy. I would have had her off my land in half a heartbeat.  The story was also very predictable – disappointingly so: absolutely nothing in this story came as a surprise. But still, I had to know how it was going to resolve, if it would end as I was sure it must (and it did).
The seduction of this novel is all in the quality of Catherine Chanter’s writing, which is sublime; world class. The woman can certainly tell a tale and, though I didn’t find her tale particularly original or convincing, it is so fabulously told. From beginning to end, The Well is mesmerizing, enchanting, utterly compelling – not quite a masterpiece, but in time, maybe next time, Catherine Chanter is sure to produce one, because her writing and her storytelling is some of the best I’ve read in years.

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