Down the Well
Veronica King (Author)
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December 05, 2023
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About the Author
Kelli Wright (Veronica's true name) has a deep imagination, and a sail filled with ambition for the sea of opportunity ahead. As a teen, Kelli loved consuming all media about far-off magical worlds. As an adult, she enjoys using her own spellbinding creativity to spin whimsical worlds and charming characters from thin air. She is a proud Appalachian because you can take the woman out of the mountains, but you can't take the mountains out of the woman. When she isn't crafting a story, she enjoys kitchen witchery, reading to her young daughters, and playing video games with her spouse.
A young woman finds herself transported to a magical world of talking animals in King's YA novel. Lorette "Lore" Deodarán is an awkward 18-year-old whose life is in upheaval: A new home in the town of Hazel Borough, a new school just a month from graduation, and court-ordered therapy only add to the familiar, crushing anxiety of her fraught family life. A job at a neighborhood bakery and time spent with her grandmother Mamó promise some measure of reprieve--until a big-eared, golden-eyed creature searching for a particular charm bracelet inadvertently causes Mamó's death. When Lore attempts to catch the beast, she tumbles down the blue brick well behind her grandmother's cabin. She lands in the town of Charmsend, in another world called Thimbleton, where humans have long been extinct. It's a magical place, full of talking animals who wield mystical powers. Lore receives aid from an adventurous mouse named Mathilde who is working to solve the murder of her adoptive father, Gannon, a gentle giant of an alligator. The author's prose is whip-smart and laced with poetry, regularly returning to themes of precious gems and flowers. Chapters are short and fast-paced, and the characters exchange fun, snappy dialogue (" 'Human, I am this size because I am a mouse, not because I am a child.' Lore sucked on the inside of her cheek and quietly sat back down. 'You could have just led with that, you know, ' she grumbled") that makes the exposition go down easily. The novel excels at establishing settings; Charmsend is as bewitching as its name implies, a fully formed society with unique customs for everything, from preserving their history to burying their dead. While there's plenty of action (including an exciting fight with a giant librarian snake), the way the story captures grief, both in how Lore recalls her grandmother after her death and how Mathilde honors her father, is equally impactful. Magical mysteries, action and adventure, and ruminations on grief, all in one enchanting package.-- "Kirkus recommended review"