Cover Image: The Witch In The Well

The Witch In The Well

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for the advance reader copy of The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce in exchange for an honest review. I really loved the idea of this story and the feel of it. The writing wasn't my style and for me it dragged. Maybe I wasn't in the right head space to enjoy it more, but I tried.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars.

Spoilers ahead. I will not reveal anything big - most of the review vaguely alludes to plot, structure, and characters.

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I was enamored with the idea of this plot from the first synopsis I read. An urban legend? Witches? Two former friends now fighting it out? But this book ended up being hit or miss for me. Both narrators were completely unreliable and insufferable. I can normally vibe with unreliable narrators, but I was so frustrated with their obvious biases and flaws. I was particularly frustrated with Cathy - I found her insufferable, sharing way too much for selfish reasons. Beyond the chararacrtes, the narrative was a bit disjointed to me between all of the different mediums (diary, blog posts, documents, articles, etc) and I think it would have been more effective if we had only heard from the two women. I absolutely loved the found-footage idea of reading diary and blog entries. Overall, an engaging read for anyone looking for a character-driven book centered around folklore and magic.

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Again, thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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What begins as a fiercely competitive sense of ownership over Ilsbeth and her story soon turns both women’s worlds into something more haunted and dangerous than they could ever imagine.

This was good but nothing spectacular. I will say I was listening to it in the woods and it did a lot of the heavy lifting fear wise.
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In a small town in the Norwegian countryside, childhood friends Elena and Cathy grew close to each other over many summers of vacationing there. Now adults, the two have become bitter rivals after discovering that both have decided to start a writing project about the same topic: Isbeth Clark.

A local woman who had been denounced as a witch back in the nineteenth century, Isbeth was drowned in a well by a mob of angry townsfolk who believed her responsible for the disappearance of several children. Stories of her have since become entrenched in the history of the town as well as many local legends. In the present day, having returned from the city to get her family’s estate ready for sale, Elena is reminded of her bucolic summers spent here in her youth and is suddenly struck with an inspiration to write a tribute to Ilsbeth’s spirit. A bestselling author of a spiritual self-help book, Elena also hopes to use her reach as a social media influencer to spread the word about the infamous witch in the well.

This does not sit well at all with Cathy, who has remained in town after all these years and earned herself a bit of a reputation as the local kook. Obsessed with the subject of Ilsbeth Clark, Cathy has dedicated years of her life researching the woman’s life for a novel about her, and now feels anger towards Elena for encroaching upon what she perceives is her area of expertise. The story is told in the epistolary style, opening with a news report on a tragic death followed by excerpts from Elena’s journal, entries on Cathy’s blog, notes purported written by Ilsbeth herself, as well as other documentation.

After writing out the book’s description, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities to another one of Camilla Bruce’s novels, You Let Me In. There’s first the blending of horror and paranormal elements with smalltown history and folklore. Then there’s the aspect of the unreliable narrator. And finally, thanks to the vagueness created by the combination of all these ingredients, the result is an eerie uncertainty of what is real and what is imagined.

The author also seems to have a penchant for characters who are writers. But while both Cathy and Elena in The Witch in the Well are hoping to write about Ilsbeth Clark, their visions for their respective works couldn’t be any more different. And much of it has to do with the differences between the two women themselves. Cathy has always been the quiet, somber, and introverted one who struggles socially with expressing how she feels. Elena is the opposite, making friends easily with her bubbly and bright personality.

Due to the structure of the novel, these character differences became an invaluable way to tell their voices apart. However, here’s where I think Bruce’s writing falters a bit; the story is supposed to be told through the characters’ own writings such as journal entries, notes, etc. but in fact the writing style varies very little. Sure, we had personality quirks come through that were used to tell the voices apart, but in general these were rather shallow affectations.

The Witch in the Well also had the feel of a “here’s what happened” story where the major crux was revealed right from the start, leaving the rest of the novel to go back and fill in the details. Without spoiling anything, I will say that in a way we already know the fates of our characters very early on so there’s no big shock, especially with a big reveal of what happened to one of them right off the bat. As a plot device, I wasn’t exactly turned off by it, though I can’t say it did the story any favors either. It simply left the rest of it with little wind in its sails to carry the mystery or intrigue all the way through.

That’s pretty much how I feel about the book overall—smooth sailing but generally an uneventful ride. Not bad at all, though after my stellar experience with the Camilla Bruce’s two previous novels, You Let Me In and In the Garden of Spite, it’s hard not to see The Witch in the Well as a slight downgrade. Still a good book and a worthy pick if you are a fan of the author, but if you are just starting out with her work I would recommend starting elsewhere, like with either of the aforementioned novels which are much more impressive in terms of storytelling, atmosphere, character development.
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Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book! 

I have to say that has probably been one of my more tedious reads for this year. I really disliked both Catherine and Elena. I had a hard time getting through the mystery of it all when I was so thoroughly annoyed by them both. I found the pay off to be a bit disappointing as well. The overall spooky atmosphere fell short for me too. 

I really wanted to love this based on vibes alone, but overall it just didn’t hit the mark for me.
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Ilsbeth Clark is accused of witchcraft after children turn up drown in a well in their small Norwegian town. Centuries later, Elena and Cathy are caught up in the mystery of the well and determined to write Ilsbeth's story. 

This horror/thriller story takes place in rural Norway. The small town combined with a crumbling manor house, the woods, and a creepy well with a lot of history combine to create the best dark dreary atmosphere. This story is told through journals, book entries, and blog posts to create a picture of the folklore surrounding the well and the alleged witch Ilsbeth Clark. I found that there were too many different characters and POV's to keep track. I would recommend this story to those that to dive into the history surrounding folklore. In this story the folklore really comes to life in an atmospheric way.
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Two women, one-time childhood friends, become bitter rivals when they are both writing about the murder of Ilsbeth Clark, thought to have been a witch after many children disappeared. Although acquitted of the crime, the townsfolk threw her in a well to drown believing her to be guilty many years ago.  Jump ahead 100s of years when influencer Elena returns to the town where she spent her childhood with Cathy. Cathy has been drafting her story for years, and when she finds out Elena is writing the same story, the bitterness and anger begin. The story is told through Elena's journals, Cathy's blog, and "other" writings. A hippie influencer, a lonely recluse, and the spirit of the witch! A little confusing to read, but fun nonetheless.
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"When two former friends reunite after decades apart, their grudges, flawed ambitions, and shared obsession swirl into an all-too-real echo of a terrible town legend."

This story is told through the voices of the three main characters: Elena - who returns to her family's summer home to prepare it for sale; Cathy - who was fast friends with Elena as children; and Ilsbeth Clark - who centuries ago was accused of witchcraft and drowned in a well by the townspeople. Told in a series of journal entries, blog posts, and old documents, it bounces between the three women as we learn how they are each affected by and drawn to the well in the woods. 

While bouncing between three main characters did start the story off slow for me, I really enjoyed the format of this book. The three main characters could not have been any different and yet their stories were woven together perfectly. There weren't many big twists and turns in this story and it was easy to see where it was going; but I just had to "watch" it play out. This book is perfect for those who enjoy light mysteries with a little thriller. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for this ARC. 
On Sale Now.
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*3.5*

This was a great atmospheric gothic setting set at a castle. A little mystery element with a supernatural element to top it all off! I liked the elements with the witch and the horse. Have to admit, I was a little taken aback by the feud between Catherine and Elena. It all seemed a little childish. And Catherine was annoyingly not paying attention to staying off social media, like GIRL THROW THE PHONE AWAY! I did like the manner in which this was written between journal entries, letters, etc.. I thought that added to the mystery of the novel very well.

This is my first by Camilla Bruce but I already have one backlist book and look forward to reading it still! I would recommend this for those that like a soft supernatural element and not a heavy detective focused mystery. Perfect for these autumn vibes!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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{2.5}

The Witch in the Well had so much potential and could’ve been a great book for spooky season. What drew me to it is the fact that this is a Norwegian thriller. Though this book is about witches, a broken friendship and a small town’s history, it fell flat especially on the “witchy” factor. 

Told in 3 POVs which are either in the format of a letter, a journal entry or a document’s transcript. It was hard to keep the 3 characters apart and took some time to get the hang of things. 

It focuses heavily on the past and the small town’s history but oddly includes very modern technology for the present parts. One of the MC’s were heavily into the “influencer” life and loved using hashtags for everything she posted online.

In the end I have to say that I am still confused about what I read and am left with so many questions. I didn’t think about DNFing this at all because I really wanted to understand the story and be engrossed in it. This was a difficult book in the sense of it being hard to comprehend.
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this ARC.

The Witch in the Well was an interesting read. The multiple POVs and the increasing crazy events were well done and kept me invested. I especially enjoyed Cathy's messed up reactions to everything happening around her. This book won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it is well written and kept me guessing. I give it a solid 3.5/5 stars.
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I thought it would he better. The writing was interesting, but I don't get the creature in the well. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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I requested this one because it might be an upcoming title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one.
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October is the best time for finding a surplus of spooky books. At least, that's how it always feels. My latest creepy read is The Witch in the Well, written by Camilla Bruce.

There once was a woman named Ilsbeth Clark. Like many unfortunate souls of her time, she was accused of witchcraft. She died protesting her innocence to the crimes levied her way, not that it did her much good.

In the present day, two friends have always been a little bit obsessed with Ilsebth's story. While the two grew apart growing up, it would seem their obsession lingered, for both were drawn back to the mystery – and the danger.

There are certain authors that we keep coming back to again and again. Camilla Bruce will always be one of my favorite gothic/horror authors. Therefore, I'll pretty much read anything of hers around Halloween time!

This leads me to The Witch in the Well. While this wasn't my favorite horror novel of all time (actually...I have no idea which book I would give that award to), it was still an engrossing and compelling read.

I love that the tale begins with the story of two friends. It has a grounding effect, even when everything goes horribly (awfully) wrong. There is something so human about a friendship crumbling, don't you think?

Everything that follows gets steadily darker as we delve into the truth of Ilsbeth Clark's story. It was moving to read. As the saying goes, we are the witches they couldn't burn.
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Thanks to #netgalley and #macmillan #tor for the advance copy of #thewitchinthewell - I enjoyed it!

I enjoy a book that surprises me - either by the plotting, the characters or the format. This surprise was the very effective use of epistolary style. Told in varying chapters by one of three women - Ilsbeth from the past and Elena and Cathy from the present, it's such a clever way to share each person's first person account of the events. The writing styles were distinctly different and showed the personalities clearly. Continuing with the surprises, each of the women weren't "journaling" - only Elena's was presented as a journal. Cathy was writing and Open Letter to the town and posting online while Ilsbeth was writing in what became known as the Nicksby Papers.

There's a bit of magic and a demon in play, but really it's the story of these three women and their intertwined lives with at least one unreliable narrator! A very satisfying read.
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I loved this book, loved it!  It has it all: dual POV’s, unreliable narrators, a journal, witch lore…I could go on. I was hooked from page one, the characters were rich and interesting, and both sides of the ‘feud’ were absolutely fascinating, from both Cathy’s youthful perspective and the modern day version. I wasn't creeped out or anything so if you're not big into horror books, this is still easily doable for you, especially for spooky season!
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I received an e-book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is told through different point of views and has an easy flow. I love all things witchy and for the most part this book was fitting the bill. It was pretty creepy. Trigger warning: bullying,childhood illness, child loss,postpartum depression.
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I enjoyed the book and recommend it. If you absolutely have to a character you like then I would probably skip this. I usually am the same way but the plot really had a hook on me and in the end, it felt like a cautionary tale.
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Captured my attention immediately. Hard to put down. Great story and complex and well wrote characters. Loved the twists and was very sad to finish it. This author did great with the story and I want and need more!
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Camilla Bruce’s novel is dark and dangerous, exploring the supernatural and human flaws in a compelling way. What makes it so intriguing is that both characters are obsessive and flawed, both dark and both not willing to step aside from their competition and it is the story of where those ambitions lead them that keep you coming back for more.

There other aspect is the way the narrative is laid out builds such tension and intrigue. I can’t say I fell in love with either character but I did want to solve the mystery of Ilsbeth as much as the two women did, I wanted to find out what they were each being haunted by and whether the danger would catch up with them. The story unfolds in three different points of view and that is what keeps the story evolving and keeps you waiting for the twist. Ultimately even the monsters are miserable. 

Camilla Bruce’s novel is dark and dangerous, full of the supernatural and the human, blending human misery and anger with a haunting story. If you like mystery and intrigue layered with the paranormal, I think you might like this one. The characters were not likable but were all too human and the ending was satisfactory.
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