The Well

By: Jack Cady
Narrated by: Matt Godfrey
Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
3.4 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Years earlier, John Tracker fled the insanity of his family and their house, a centuries-old monstrosity that his grandfather Theophilus rigged full of hallucinatory tricks and vicious death traps designed to capture the Devil. Now middle-aged, John receives word that the place is to be demolished to make way for a freeway, and he decides to revisit it with his girlfriend Amy Griffith before its destruction. 

But when a blizzard traps them inside the house, they will be forced to contend with the dangers hidden within: strange time-shifts, murderous traps, and something evil that stalks the halls in the form of John's grandmother Vera. As the terror mounts, John and Amy will make the horrifying discovery that Theophilus's mad ambition to trap the Devil may have succeeded only too well ...  

Jack Cady (1932-2004) has been recognized as a master American storyteller and was the recipient of the World Fantasy, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards for his novels and short fiction. This edition of The Well (1980), a classic of modern horror fiction, includes an introduction by Tom Piccirilli.

©1980, 2017 The Estate of Jack Cady (P)2018 Valancourt Books

Critic Reviews

 "[A] superior example of horror fiction ... a vision out of hell ... an original and awesome adventure that should be read in broad daylight, when one is not alone." (Publishers Weekly)

"It takes no special critical powers to recognize in Cady an exceptional writer, who is not just promising but has already achieved some remarkable feats." (Joyce Carol Oates)

 "[A] haunted house story ... intelligently written both in terms of concept and style ... Cady develops his horrors with subtlety." (Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction)

What listeners say about The Well

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Winchester House meets H.H. Holmes Mansion

This setting is a twisted house that is a labyrinth of mazes with H.H. Holmes type rooms built on a more sinister version of the well from The Ring. This house reminded me a bit of the movie Cube. I always try to listen to older horror because those stories always set the foundation for current horror writers. Usually I can’t get into them as much as I would like, H.P Lovecraft for instance, but this one is definitely one to check out. Occasionally I got mixed-up on the timeline with all the different Trackers, but that is on me. Otherwise this was a haunted house story that was a unique and quite enjoyable tale.
I am not a huge fan of Tom Piccirilli and fortunately this audible book doesn’t include his introduction. Hearing that might have offered some insight into the story, but most likely would have started me out thinking negatively of the book. Having heard some of Piccirilli’s stories I can see how these authors are similar, but I definitely prefer Cady.
I enjoyed the story of John and Amy, discovering how they truly feel about each other while trying to survive the house. You get a lot of back story on the different Trackers and get to meet a few of them as well. I felt like the story got too wrapped up in the lineage of Trackers when I really just wanted to hear about the house. Given that the house is booby trapped at every step I wanted a little bit more horror. Instead of horror this provided a lot of anxiety and tension as the claustrophobic house continues on and on. Listening to this with headphones on I definitely felt trapped.
Been a fan of Matt Godfrey for a while and as always his tone of voice is set for specific books and he finds the right ones to narrate. I think he did great on this story. If very early 80’s horror is your thing I recommend this.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

7 people found this helpful

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Creepy Creepy!

This is a blend of history and horror! The nightmare that transcends several lifetimes. Destroying families and haunting. Its a story that is narrated by man remembering his boyhood and the odd secrets of his family. The devoured lives! The boy that is successful and comes back to stand triumphant against evil.

4 people found this helpful

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Well that was strange...

... in a good way! Matt Godfrey never disappoints, I would listen to him narrate the back of a shampoo bottle! 'The Well' was a bizarre story about bizarre people who have isolated themselves fully from outside society. It's hard to explain and it's even harder to explain without spoilers so instead I'll just say: if you enjoy meandering horror books about weird families with off the wall tendencies, then you'll likely enjoy this one! I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

2 people found this helpful

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Great haunted house story

The house is the greatest character in the story. Full of deadly traps, made by a crazy family and with a deep evil animating it. It's a little annoying about the deus ex maquina like ability of evil to control reality in the genre, but it was a good setup here. The other characters weren't so defined, and I found Amy annoying most of the time. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

2 people found this helpful

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An ambitious tale...

The Well is an ambitious tale by renowned horror writer Jack Cady. This is my first Cady novel and I enjoyed it...he had some real story telling skills. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more length to this story - he could have developed many of these characters in more depth. Additionally, more backstory/history would have been nice. The history he provided was so good and very enjoyable to read...the story would have had more substance/depth if even more history had been provided for us. It seemed at times that The Well was trying to fit too much into a too small package. That being said, it really was an interesting and highly imaginative story with some down right creepy parts that I quite enjoyed. I believe that one of the main reasons that I walked away from this reading feeling more positive about it than frustrated was the narration skills of Matt Godfrey. Godfrey is spot on when it comes to conveying nuanced character emotional states. In this particular story I felt that Godfrey carried the choppier somewhat disjointed parts of the story with his consistently good character narration. There are many good audio book narrators out there but there are not many who are as talented as Godfrey when it comes to conveying ambivalent emotions. This skill is of particular importance in the horror/thriller genre as the reality of difficult situations is that those experiencing them will often move through multiple emotional or affective states throughout said experience; fear (obviously), anger, confusion, the uncomfortable (but at times irresistible) paradoxical urge to laugh, pin point focus/determination, bravery, cowardice, and so on. For a narrator to convey these various states through subtle voice modulation (tempo, volume, voice shakiness, etc) without these techniques coming across as overly obvious to the listener...that's talent. And a particularly important talent when a story's plot reaches a weak point as the narrator may the only glue left holding the whole thing together. If good narration can move the reader past the bumpier parts of the story the reader may be more inclined to continue on reading the novel as opposed to just giving up on it altogether.

2 people found this helpful

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On and on and Onnnnnnnnn

I barely listened to the last half of this book. It was way too long for the subject matter. This should have been a short story.

1 person found this helpful

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gets right into the weird

Well narrated by Matt Godfrey, an odd and intriguing tale that wastes no time getting into the strange. Thanks Valancourt for bringing these tales back to attention.

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A great idea set back by a dragging narrative.

I absolutely love the idea behind 'The Well,' but found the whole thing to be less than the sum of its parts. There is a lot to love here. Cady's prose is lovely and the Tracker house he's created could stand toe-to-toe with any Hill House or Belasco Mansion. While the story starts strong, it meanders throughout most of its last two thirds, only picking up for what is, admittedly, a very satisfying conclusion. The recitation by Matt Godfrey is top notch.

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  • AJ
  • 01-10-19

still don't know the point

I own hundreds of audible books, most are horror. I get excited when a new one comes along that's longer than 4 hours. This should be a hard pass. The story was convoluted where it should have been straightforward: a crazy house with tricks and traps and a relative wanting to dismantle it. The actual point of the house was never really explained. just some throw-away sentences about trying to avoid evil, or beat evil. The evil is never explained. Is it some demon in the well? I have no idea. It read like a good 50% of the book was missing. It is a convoluted mess. The 'answer' to the issue seems to come to the main character after some hints and riddles. It came to me within 10 pages.

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Great concept, failed execution

The idea could be amazing and a high stakes thrill ride along with a Haunted House story that may or may not actually be haunted. What we got was a lame under developed weakling of a story that completely undermines it's best feature "the booby trapped house" by making John too familiar with the traps and History. This needs the "Haunting Of Hill House" treatment so recently given to the book of the same name. Take a few key concepts and scenes and maybe the title and throw the rest of it away. (**I actually like the original Haunting, except the ending and think the 1999 version is the best version on film) This book needed more, deeper characters unfamiliar with the house, a few deaths caused by the house, and a finale confrontation with the heart of the house... Instead of the toothless whining and complaining of the two leads.

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  • Prester Jim
  • 04-26-20

Hill House, Hell House, Well... House?

Enigmatic 1980 novel from Jack Cady that promises more than it delivers. The early chapters set up an intriguing take on the haunted house / deathtrap dungeon sub-genre with a style that lies somewhere between Americana-infused magic realism and The Shining by Stephen King. Cady is a talented writer and this book goes beyond the usual chills to explores themes of atavism, morality, self determination and free will. A central conceit of the novel is the setting: Tracker House, a Mid-Western family pile very much in the model of H.H. Holmes' murder castle or the Winchester Mystery House, and which, it is explained in passing, hosts a nest of diabolical traps set by someone's mad granddad to capture The Devil. This great premise is rather wasted when it becomes apparent that Cady's conception of The Devil is largely metaphorical and part of a rambling discourse on nature versus nurture. Even the idea of the house as a personification allegory resolves into a dull tussle between Good and Evil. Most of the book's strengths and weaknesses lie in the tension between its high-concept ambition and its genre form. Unfortunately, much of the storytelling is too elliptical to be satisfying as a page-turning thriller, whilst the more experimental elements are too bound by formal storytelling to disrupt the structure into something more interesting; instead, it just feels incomplete. One of the most promising ideas here is that of inconstant time ("timeslips"); in fiction, ghostly locations are often haunted by the echoes of their own past but here it looks as if Cady is going to do something more interesting (the initial scene between the hero, John Tracker, and his possibly deceased grandmother is genuinely great); instead it just peters out, half-formed and under-explored. Like the house itself, there are long passages that go nowhere at all. Conversely, the most successful elements of the novel are also removed from the main narrative: each chapter is prefaced by a brief study into Tracker genealogy which plays with such Great American Novel themes as heredity, nation building and individualism; these were by far my favourite parts of the book. Also on the positive, the narration by Matt Godfrey is excellent throughout, even carrying some of the longueurs. I notice that Valancourt have had the good sense to use him for several of their books. However, despite his admirable efforts, I found 'The Well' became a chore to finish.

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  • Dr Caterpillar
  • 03-31-20

Nebulous

I was expecting something like a cross between The Ring and Cube. What I got was... I dunno! The language felt somehow slippery. 40 minutes in, I went back to the beginning because I wasn't sure what had happened. Several times I rewound 30 seconds because I didn't think I'd heard properly. I had, but I was still none the wiser. I even looked up the word "grade" because I didn't know what it meant in the context of a highway - I guessed it meant something like embankment but I'm still not sure. There was so much waffle about the main character's age, his job, his age, his gandparents, his age, his other grandparents, his age, his great grandparents, and his age. (I'm not exaggerating.) Then more about his girlfriend, her age, her attitude to sex, her age, her job and her age. All tell not show, and not at all evocative. When we finally get to the house, I'm curious about these deathtraps, but he just glosses over how they're no big deal if you know what you're doing. A big thing is made of time shifts, which seem to just be another term for memories. When the girlfriend gets to the house she is blase about his warning that there are deathtraps. She narrowly misses being burnt to death, and she's STILL dismissive. That was when I decided to get a refund. These characters are as unconvincing as they are boring.