The Well

The Well

5.0 3
by A. J. Whitten

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If Hamlet thought he had issues, he should have talked to Cooper Warner.

His mother’s normally sunny demeanor has turned into something—homicidal.

And what’s worse, she has help in her hunt for Cooper: A ravenous monster living at the bottom of the old well in the woods behind their house. She’s determined to deliver her


If Hamlet thought he had issues, he should have talked to Cooper Warner.

His mother’s normally sunny demeanor has turned into something—homicidal.

And what’s worse, she has help in her hunt for Cooper: A ravenous monster living at the bottom of the old well in the woods behind their house. She’s determined to deliver her 14-year-old son straight into the creature’s eager clutches. Cooper turns to his girlfriend, Megan, for help, but then, to his horror, the creature takes her prisoner.
Now, it’s up to Cooper to fend off his murderous mother, finish his Hamlet paper, and enter the putrid lair at the bottom of the well to rescue Megan. And when he confronts the creature, Cooper must make the toughest decision of his life: kill, or be killed.

Inspired by Hamlet, THE WELL puts a terrifying twist on the Shakespearean classic.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Cooper Warner's mother is trying to kill him. Specifically she is trying to feed him to the creature that lives in the abandoned well on the Maine vineyard they call home—or what has become home since Mom suddenly divorced Dad and married tyrannical Sam Jumel, an obstetrician with too many dark secrets. Only his girlfriend Megan seems to understand. When Megan disappears, however, the tension cranks up a notch and Cooper needs to get lots of questions answered fast. Why is his mother trying to kill him? What is the thing in the well, and why does it call to him? Why is his stepfather acting strangely? And where is Megan? Unfortunately the composition of this horror tale—a collaboration of romance writer Shirley Jump and her teenage daughter writing as A. J. White—is uneven. The premise is intriguing, and the character of Cooper and his father are well drawn. Other characters, such as Megan, Cooper's brother, mother, and stepfather are either under-defined or exaggerated. The horror elements serve to perpetuate the plot and supply truly creepy ambiance, but the narrative is littered with unlikely dialog and even less likely action, which at times slows to a crawl. Although it is billed as a retelling of Hamlet, the connection is barely visible. The gruesome elements are not for everyone, but horror fans will be pleased and the title could serve as an introduction to the genre. Readers willing to overlook the book's uneven description and pacing will be rewarded with a strong finish. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
VOYA - Isabel Crevasse
A. J. Whitten skillfully weaves ordinary teen troubles—girlfriend drama, cruel stepfathers, sibling conflict—with creepy, bizarre struggles for survival. The constant references to Hamlet add a deeper level of horror to the novel, as well as help teen readers to understand Shakespeare. Although some parts are implausible—how quickly his friends and family believe his tale of a creature in the well, for example—the novel is generally well-written and certainly memorable. Reviewer: Isabel Crevasse, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Jennifer Keeney
At first glance, Cooper Warner may seem like an average fourteen year old. He bickers with his older brother, adores his girlfriend, and regularly avoids confrontation with his perpetually angry stepfather. But Cooper is hiding a secret—his own mother wants him dead. In the beginning of the story Cooper finds himself struggling to breathe in the bottom of a rancid old well located on the property of his stepfather's historic vineyard. Living in this slimy pit is a creature that has been waiting for Cooper for two centuries. Though he initially escapes the creature's clutches, Cooper cannot flee the hungry voice that haunts him day and night. Perhaps most disturbing is Cooper's mother, who inexplicably wavers between the roles of doting parent and murderous enemy. The secrets of the well and its surrounding vineyard unravel in Whitten's creepy and fast paced tale. Inspired by Hamlet, this novel will entrance reluctant readers and features a protagonist that is especially appealing to male readers. Reviewer: Jennifer Keeney
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—High school freshman Cooper Warner's stepfather makes his life miserable, and his English-teacher father only seems to care about how well he does on his Hamlet paper. But these problems pale in comparison with the biggest one of all: his mother is trying to kill him. At the beginning of the story, she pushes him into a slimy old well on the vineyard property owned by her new husband. As Cooper tries to escape, he begins to realize that a hideous creature is toying with him, hungry for his blood. Cooper makes it out of the well, but the creature is determined to hunt him down and force him to take its place, and it has enlisted the help of his stepfather and his seemingly possessed mother. Cooper tries to enlist his girlfriend's help, but when the creature abducts her, and then uses her and his brother as bait, Cooper realizes that he is intended to be a sacrifice for the continued fertility of the land and that he will have to confront the monster. The author claims to have been inspired by Hamlet, but the connection with Shakespeare's play is tenuous at best. The story has a few good touches, as when the creature possesses Cooper's MySpace page, but there are too many plot holes and too much is left unexplained. The adult characters are clichés, and the numerous pop culture and product references guarantee that this book will date quickly.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
From the Publisher
"[A] propulsive horror yarn. . . . Fright fans will be plenty satisfied with the homicidal happenings."—Booklist
"Overall, this is at once frightening and a bit campy, making this a guilty—but still gratifyingly gross—pleasure for horror fans."—Bulletin

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
File size:
225 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

A. J. WHITTEN is a pseudonym for New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump writing with her teenage daughter, Amanda. A shared love of horror movies and a desire to spice up the Shakespeare stories that are required reading in high schools led to their collaboration on The Well. They live in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

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The Well 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sooo good you must read it just pick up the book and read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once you start you cant stop even though the begening is a little boring the end is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! but a little scary lol AWESOMELY AMAZING
Anonymous More than 1 year ago