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Review: The Well (Whitten)

AUTHOR: A.J. Whitten
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PUBLICATION DATE: September 21, 2009
ISBN: 9780547232294
PAGES: 336
SOURCE: ESC XI book review committee
GENRE: horror

SUMMARY: An ancient monster lurks at the bottom of the old well behind 14-year old Cooper’s new house, and it seems to be after Cooper. When Cooper turns to his girlfriend for help, the creature takes her prisoner. Now, it’s up to Cooper venture into the well and rescue his girlfriend from the creature’s clutches.

REVIEW: The Well is the perfect book for bona fide horror fans—it has a creepy cover, lots of gore and violence, slowly-building suspense, and a hero with a beautiful girlfriend. Although supposedly inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the book compares better to Stephen King’s It because the creature lives in a dark, damp, underground environment and communicates with and traps humans in order to live. Like King’s It, the creature is able to control the minds and behavior of others and can influence action far beyond the walls of its well-prison. I especially enjoyed the chapters told from the monster’s perspective.

The creature’s history is intriguing, but its familial connection to Cooper is overkill and leaves the reader wondering how it is physically possible for the 200-year old creature to have (and obtain) a “seed.” The fact that the monster eats babies (and how it acquires the babies) is unsettling and will disturb some readers. Still, upper middle school and high school readers who love horror will forgive the book’s flaws and enjoy the story.

THE BOTTOM LINE: While not for every reader, The Well is recommended for readers who really love horror and gore. Readers just looking for a light scare may experience sleepless nights after reading this one. Great for reluctant readers and horror fans.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. Like many books in our Horror genre section, it gets checked out relatively frequently.

READALIKES: It (King); The Cellar (Whitten)


  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5 (extra points for the monster perspective chapters)
  • Engrossing:
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5


  • Language: mild
  • Sexuality: mild; no intercourse takes place, but there are multiple references to the monster needing to plant his “seed.” Gross.
  • Violence: high; monster eats babies, plenty of gore
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

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