BOOK REVIEW: The Well – Peter Labrow

The eminently lovely tweeter, Peter Labrow, very kindly sent me a copy of his first novel, The Well, so that I could see what I think and pen down a few thoughts. Peter is ever such a lovely guy and you can find out more about him by following his prolific blog posting!
As for the book, well, from the cover I didn’t know what to expect. It has the look of a pretty standard horror book – think Koontz, Herbert or dare I see it, even King. However, I love a good horror novel so I dived in with glee.

I was not disappointed! Unlike the real horror greats that I have mentioned above, Labrow does not waste time getting to the action. A normal day suddenly turns very, very scary right from page 10 – and that includes the acknowledgements page and all the other bumpf!

I like the description of this book on Amazon. For once, it absolutely summarises the plot without giving too much away and the suspense it conveys is actually there in the book!
“Trapped. Missing. Cursed. Fourteen-year-old Becca Richards 
and her stepbrother have fallen to the bottom of an ancient well. 
Their parents are away; they won’t be missed for days. 
The predatory man who had been stalking Becca now switches his attentions 
to her best friend. Two women who know where Becca is trapped 
are desperate that she should never escape. 
Over the course of a week, family, friends and strangers 
are drawn together by a terrible shared fate – from which not all will escape. 
‘The Well’ is a darkly gripping tale about how we respond to the hand fate has dealt us
– and the consequences of our choices. The Well deftly intertwines 
a story of supernatural horror with a tale of one of the greatest fears of modern life. 
As the book progresses, the two stories become one 
– driving relentlessly towards a single, thrilling finale. 
The Well is a fast-paced, riveting story that will grip you – 
and keep you guessing – until the very end”
 This novel is an absolute page turner. Some way through I suddenly thought I had the plot figured out, and I was partially right, but I didn’t get the full complexity of the twists and turns. And trying to second guess Labrow was half the fun and thing that kept me obsessively reading on. 
I think my only criticism would be that the ending played out a little too long. It’s a bit like the last Lord of the Rings film, where scene after scene keeps coming, letting you know where every single character has ended up. In fairness, there were still plenty of complete surprises that kept me hooked, even in those final few chapters, and plenty of things that were unexpected to keep the reader deliciously scared. In many respects this is an excellent example of a book that questions the hand of fate and the morality of the choices that we make. It also has a supernatural edge that is not overplayed, but provides the reader with a view of the modern world, but where witches and monsters can still exist, hidden in the shadows.
Given my slight reservations about the ending, I feel I can only (only!!?) give this book 9.5 Extreme Points out of 10. I think I am being massively fussy and possibly marking down slightly. That’s probably because I’ve given the last two books I’ve reviewed a full 10 Extreme Points so I don’t want you all thinking I’m a soft touch! But I really can’t recommend The Well highly enough. It’s a gripping read and hugely entertaining. Everything you want from a horror novel. I hope that this is a sign of great things to come from Peter Labrow.

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