When I started flicking through the advance copy we’d received of The Well my attention was grabbed by a quote given by the publisher, Jamie Byng, which read ‘reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and P.D. James’ The Children of Men.’ My reaction was – as you’d expect – ‘okay sold.’
Mr Byng’s comments were indeed correct; The Well throws you in at the deep end – no pun intended – introducing you to narrator Ruth in a near-future dystopia ominously being lead back to ‘The Well.’
As the plot unfolds we soon discover that narrator Ruth and her husband Mark – during a particularly dry patch in the weather – decided to give up suburban city life and put their dubious family history behind them to start again in a self-sustained idyllic farm called ‘The Well’ with their grandson, Lucien. What could go wrong? As the dry spell continues some unexplained freak of nature affecting the land within the boundaries of ‘The Well’ means that it flourishes whilst neighbouring crops continue to fail. As a divide with the locals starts to form the plot soon spirals out of control into a paranoid dystopian thriller that intertwines itself with a cruel family saga, all of which told through the point-of-view of a nerve-wrecking unreliable narrator, who will have you screaming at the page.
The Well perfectly balances the cross-genre tightrope of an unsettling dark thriller with a dystopian setting that doesn’t isolate readers uncomfortable with science fiction.
Catherine Chanter will be appearing at Dulwich Books on Thursday 23th March. http://dulwichbooks.co.uk/2015/02/13/meet-the-authors-catherine-chanter-sara-taylor-in-conversation-with-louisa-joyner-thursday-26th-march-7-30pm/
Dave Faulds/ Canongate/ 9781782113607/ £12.99