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Verdigris Deep

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,100 ratings  ·  218 reviews
From an award-winning author, a wholly original modern classic in the making, with a great, new paperback look.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 2nd 2008 by Macmillan Children's Books (first published May 4th 2007)
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"We always find it difficult to forgive our heroes for being human."
This is one of the best books I've read this year, despite it being a children's book. Here, I said it.

It has that amazing level of complexity and ambiguity, the brave tackling of difficult questions - friendship, loyalty, and the grey undertones of both right and wrong - that so many adult books lack.

And it does not talk down to children, its intended audience. Instead it assumes - and does so correctly - that children have
I’ve been around the block when it comes to loving first time authors, if you know what I mean. That pretty little debut novel comes out and suddenly you can’t stop talking about it. You proselytize “your” find to the high hills in an attempt to convince the world around you that what you have here is pure unadulterated gold. Then the author’s second book comes out and inevitably the crush fades. You notice flaws in the new book. It could never live up to the pristine glory that was the author’s ...more
So Miriam recommended this book to me at some point—I absolutely cannot remember what spawned the suggestion—and I picked it up and looked at the cover and wasn’t particularly impressed.

But I trust Miriam! Ignoring that one regrettable moment with The Autumn Castle! So I started to read it anyway.

The story started out reasonably slow, very tra la la la laaaaa, isn’t this a silly little book, oh look they have magical powers la la laaaaa HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?!

Because shit goes
Making a wish is like saying, ‘I can’t deal with anything, I give up, somebody bigger come along and solve it all instead.’

Ryan, Josh, and Chelle miss their last bus home when hanging out in Magwhite, the village they only frequent because it is forbidden by their parents. They’ll do just about anything to make it home without having to call anyone, even if it means wrangling up some extra change to buy tickets for another bus line. Short on money and options, Josh descends into the local wishin
Patrick Burgess
Oct 29, 2009 Patrick Burgess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes words and the magic they create
Shelves: reviewed
Another Great Book Fallen Victim To The Average American Reading Level...

... which they say is around the 8th grade. Which I blame on dumb adults thinking kids aren't smart enough to read beyond their "expected" reading level. How the heck are kids going to learn to read higher than they already are if they aren't challenged? When I was a kid, I didn't let the prospect of unfamiliar words or concepts deter me from reading, oh no, I carried a little dictionary around with me, and what I didn't un
Three kids steal coins from a wishing well for bus fare and discover they have received strange powers in order to grant the wishes of the people who dropped the coins.

This starts off as a fairly conventional kids-encounter-strangeness adventure -- it reminded me most of early Diana Wynne Jones (Wilkin's Tooth, The Ogre Downstairs, Eight Days of Luke), but comparisons to E. Nesbit and Edward Eager are probably closer to the mark. A little slow, but clever turns of phrase and the occasional gorge
Wow. The most ambitious children's book I have read in a while, and the most successful at meeting those ambitions. Hardinge skillfully blends a sense of creeping supernatural menace with astute psychological realism that makes the fantastical elements more grounded and thereby more plausible and frightening. The scariest part of the book is seeing the effect on Josh of his new supernatural abilities; when combined with an underlying resentment at being neglected by his adoptive parents, his gro ...more
Zen Cho
THIS WAS SO GOOD. It was a standard "British kids find magical thing, are led into adventures", like Five Kids And It, but turned up to eleven. I highlighted a lot of turns of phrase just because I liked them so much. I huddled in bed and whimpered in fear and wished I hadn't read it so late at night, in an unfamiliar room. I went to sleep at 4 am.

The detail really makes it -- setting, it's all in the setting. It's just really funny and magic and scary and real, and it keeps raising and raising
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A real-world setting doesn't hamper Hardinge's eye for strangeness and magic in this tale of a wishing-well spirit run amok and the children who unwittingly fall under her spell. While the other two novels I've read by her focus on a young girl protagonist, this one has an ensemble of characters at its heart - the quiet, timid Ryan, outgoing, brash Josh and the flaky Chelle. Their families also form an important part of the story, especially Ryan's.

The language, imagery and integrity of this no
Nov 26, 2008 Raina rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: upper elementary good readers, jr. high
Creepy, like Coraline (especially the eyes in the hands). There's a reason you're not supposed to steal from wishing wells...
I really liked the character development of two of the children, as well as the depth of meaning behind what people wish for. Also the exploration of how witches/ancient powers can become dated. Never completely pulled me in, but was interesting all the way through.

Read with Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Into the Wild (Durst)

Favorite quote, which in context, is hilarious:
I read this as Verdigris Deep, which I understand is the UK title. What, Americans don't know fancy names for rust?

I have had this sitting on my TBR pile for ages, and given how much I adore Hardinge it doesn't make sense it took me so long to pick it up. Oh well, water under the bridge... heh... Anyway, I went in expecting a rollicking adventure like Fly by NIght. After all, how bad could it be to take coins from a wishing well, right? And even if there is a spirit in there who doesn't like bei
4.5 stars

This review originally appeared at

My morning walk to work takes me past the National Gallery of Victoria, and past the gallery’s huge water feature, a thing loaded and glimmering with tossed-in coins. And no doubt, wish those coins, wishes. Every now and then I’ll walk past to find that the water feature appears to have been cleaned out, and I find myself wondering what has become of those coins and the wishes that they represent.

In Verdigris Deep, Frances
So, this book.

My last Frances Hardinge (woe).

Kind of blew my mind away.

But at first, it totally threw me. I started reading it and was all like what is this? Because this is the only Hardinge that is not set in a secondary world. It is the only Hardinge set in our own contemporary world. It is the only Hardinge that has a boy protagonist. It is the only Hardinge that is more Horror than Fantasy:

Three friends Ryan, Chelle and Josh find themselves without their bus fare home and daredevil Josh cli
(My reviews are intended for my own info as a language arts teacher: they serve as notes and reflections for teaching and recommending to students. Therefore, spoilers may be present but will be hidden.)

SUMMARY: I am in the minority of being pretty much meh about this one. Don't get me wrong - Frances Hardinge can turn a phrase like few other authors I've encountered. And there are some real moments of brilliance in Well Witched. But overall I had a tough time sticking with this one and followin
This was another book that I read for the Garden State Teen Book Awards. While the plot seemed a little odd at times, Well Witched was very interesting and took many twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. The story revolves around three best friends, Ryan, Josh, and Chelle who receive special powers to grant wishes after they steal coins out of an old well. Based on this plot line, I was surprised at the complexity of the book. Hardinge intertwines many complex issues such as divorce ...more
A little more mundane than the usual Hardinge stock (and by mundane I mean gods that lurk at the bottoms of soggy wells and have shopping cart minions) and, oddly enough, scarier (children control things with their brains and sprout eyes from between their knuckles). It's another lovely little delivery from Hardinge, and one against whose setting I hold no grudge. (Many seem to have been ever so disappointed about Well Witched's inabilities to live up to Fly by Night simply because, well, neithe ...more
Claire Scott
Good heavens that was not at all what I expected. Super dark, closer to horror than anything else. Beautifully, interestingly written without ever being overdone or precious. Creepy as heck. I have no idea what young reader to hand this book to!
Book Elf
Creepy. This book gave me goosebumps. I was almost afraid of sleeping because I might have same nightmares. The book is unique. I liked how it was written, the pacing was okay too. I like stories about the battle between good and bad in a juvenile's mind, and eventually the good prevails. The story has something like that and one's mind corrupted with power too. And a story about not giving up on a friend. I liked that.

I liked this quote from the book:
"But...even with all the bad stuff, he was
A beautiful, dark, and haunting tale. This is yet another Hardinge masterpiece (reviews of some others to come when I re-read them). The three main characters are very well painted, with genuine emotions and real reactions. I love the way this book explores the fact that we never really know why we think what we think, why we want what we want. In many respects it is a classic "Be careful what you wish for" tale, as wishes go horribly wrong because of the secret desires that hide behind them, bu ...more

Many-layered and with engaging characters, this book doesn't offer easy answers but keeps coming back with more action--both physical and emotional.

HarperCollins, what is wrong with you? Why do you change the titles of Hardinge's books from the fabulous British titles to the dull ones you choose? How is "Verdigris Deep" not more intriguing than "Well Witched"?

One of the compliments I always give Diana Wynne Jones is that her books are "challenging", or "not easy", that the reader has to
Irene Elizabeth
Frances Hardinge writes some of the best metaphors I have ever read. She has a way of reaching beyond flat, two-dimensional descriptors, to find words that twist her imagery into a vibrant and colourful 3D.

Her prose is consistently beautiful. Take this example from the very first paragraph: The bus’s engine gave a long, exasperated sigh and shrugged its weight forward as if hulking its shoulders against the rain…

Every page, and nearly every paragraph of Frances Hardinge’s work is littered with
The premise of this book is very interesting, the need for 3 unlikely friends to have to fulfill the wishes of strangers (or people they even dislike) because one of them stole money from a defunct wishing well....but it REALLY takes a long time to get into the story and I found myself plodding along even at some of the more interesting parts. I did like the sense of discovering that a friend really isn't a friend after all....that was probably one of the greatest strengths of this book.
Molly Price
Ryan is the sort of thoughtful boy that the good kids fall in love with – they can’t help it. He’s loyal and intelligent, and cares about the "right" things. He’s not afraid to take the burden of something he knows is too big for someone else. When it needs to be done, Ryan steps up to take care of business, no matter how daunting the task - even if it means destroying his comfort zone.
Being cursed is not good,especially if it might last forever.Ryan and his friends realized they were cursed after stealing coins from a wishing well,where the well witch lives.

This book is fantasy. I thought this book was great I like how the curses match the personalities of the characters. I also like how the characters were described in the story.The setting is in a town called MagWhite and another town called Guildley,the town they live in.the setting first started in Magwhite.Ryan, Chelle
Brandy Painter
I'm not giving this a star rating because, while I loved the superb writing, I didn't enjoy the book. My review can be found here.
There are books that almost read themselves. Then there are books that require significant work to read. This book was the latter for me. Not that I mind laboring with thoughts and ideas as that often produces rich rewards, but I had difficulty following the thread of this story through the first half of the book. My other concern is that the overall tenor of the story is both dark and sad. The language is rich and enjoyable and the strength and depth of character Ryan and Chelle exhibit by the ...more
By now I shouldn't be surprised by how amazing Frances's books are. They usually start out normal then make a sudden and violent turn during a certain, unsuspecting, chapter and from then on you find your self clutching the book, wide eyed in fear and wonder at what's going to happen next.

Yes, this book is about 3 kids who steal a bunch of coins from a well and then have to grant the wished of the coin tossers. But it's also about loyalty and friendship- not in the cliche way but in 'what would
I picked it up and put it back down, because I already had another Hardinge in the stack at home, and why be greedy. And then, the Possum came along and saw it, and she checked it out.
2009 March 24

I started reading this to the Possum last night. Too early to have much of an opinion, although I like the idea of the two little kids being picked on and finding comfort in friendship with one another and a boy one year older.
2009 March 25

The Possum preferred not to carry on.
2009 March 26


I first fell in love with Frances Hardinge's Fly By Night more than five years ago, a pleasurable read enhanced by the fact that the good friend who recommended it to me knew my reading tastes so well. I'm not as well-versed in Young Adult fiction as I should probably be, but I connected with the airiness of Hardinge's prose, which painted a vibrant world teeming with humor and verve.

It's through this lens of great expectation that I viewed Verdigris Deep, her sophomore novel. A young adult urb
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Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.
More about Frances Hardinge...
Fly by Night (Fly By Night, #1) The Lost Conspiracy A Face Like Glass Fly Trap (Fly By Night, #2) Cuckoo Song

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“We always find it difficult to forgive our heroes for being human.” 29 likes
“Making a wish is like saying, 'I can't deal with anything, I give up, somebody bigger come along and solve it all instead.” 7 likes
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