Rachel's Reviews > Verdigris Deep

Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge
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Aug 03, 09

bookshelves: summer-09
Read in August, 2009

It is Josh's idea to filch coins from the Magwhite wishing well, but as usual sweet-meaning chatterbox Chelle and quietly precocious Ryan are dragged along for the misguided misdemeanor -- and ensuing adventure.

So begins Hardinge's eagerly anticipated (by me, at least) second novel, set this time in the "real world" of modern England. I sped happily through the book's first half, relishing Hardinge's keen observational humor and fresh cast of eccentric characters. Hardinge remains charming and witty as ever, and though I was unused at first to Verdigris' more mundane world (ours), this was probably the best direction to go in after Fly By Night. The realistic setting allows Hardinge to better explore the emotional arcs of her characters and makes the onset of magical forces later in the book that much creepier. Thus, while Verdigris does not attain the brilliance of Fly By Night, nor its characters send even a tremor towards Eponymous Clent's immortal pedestal, I was captivated, emotionally and otherwise, in a way I will not soon forget. Verdigris, while not as spirited and imaginative as a first novel, was a creepier and in some ways more sophisticated work. I feel like Hardinge is growing as a writer, and that makes me very exicted.

A last note: I assume the title change from "Verdigris Deep" to "Well-Witched" was a request of Hardinge's American publishers, and I rather resent the swap. The original title better conveys the dark and mysterious themes of the book, especially towards the conclusion.
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