Cover Image: The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall

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Member Reviews

I recieved an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and will recommend it often to lovers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels!
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Lydia Montrose is the middle daughter, the good daughter, the not-as-pretty daughter with a good heart and desire to always do the right thing.  Even though her family has done enough in the past year that would leave most people wary, Lydia understands they aren’t perfect and she needs to be there for them.  After some horrible rumors are spread about the family, they relocate from Boston to a large estate house in the country---miles away from the gossip.  Unfortunately, much of that gossip follows Lydia’s family, and instead of a fresh start, more troubles befall the Montrose family, bringing Lydia to a breaking point and unleashing her wrath in more ways than most expected.  Although the title has the word “witch” in it, and there are some ghostly tales within, the book still boils down to family relationships and how much one person is willing to give before the breaking point.  I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, I’m pleased to say.

Special Note of thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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If you are looking for a book to read during this fall season, then look no further! The Witch of Willow Hall is the perfect book to get you in the mood for the changing of seasons. Feel that chill running down your spine? Don’t worry, I’m sure that it is just the cold weather creeping in.

The book starts off with a family who suddenly has to move to the country from Boston because of a scandal. However, we do not know what this scandal is and why it is bad enough that the entire family has to move so far away. It is definitely a Gothic read, as it is set in that time period and the surroundings, going-ons, and especially the language that the author uses plants you perfectly in that feeling. I was interested from the start and found myself unable to put this book down, wanting to read more and discover what was going on. It reminded me a bit of the movie Crimson Peak, in which we were unaware of what was truly happening right up until the very end.

I personally enjoy mystery and suspense over hack and saw horror; I want my scares to be subtle, the kind that gives me goosebumps instead of jumping out of my skin. Because of this reason, The Witch of Willow Hall is going into my must-reads for the Halloween and fall season. It has just enough of that creep factor–but it is firmly cemented in reality. If you are looking for a give you goosebumps, creeping under your bed kind of read, then this is the book for you!

Thank you to Grayson House/Harlequin for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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I'm struggling so much with my book-hangover here.

I started this story and finished it a day later; I would've finished it sooner had I had more time. It's been a long time since I've connected to a main character the way I connected to Lydia. She's selfless, brave, loving, forgiving, at time naive, and just an all-around wonderful heroine to read about.

The relationships between Lydia and her family are one of the main themes in this one. Mostly; the relationship she has with her sisters. She has an older sister, Catherine and a younger sister, Emeline. All I will say is that those two separate relationships are about as polarizing as it gets. But, the relationships go through changes throughout the story. And it's those changes that add elements of strife for Lydia.

The other "character" in the book, that I felt was reminiscent of the moors of "Wuthering Heights" was Willow Hall, itself. Almost a living, breathing thing, this house.

Lastly, I'll say that Lydia's and John's relationship and Lydia's acceptance of who she really is and was meant to be are my favorite parts of this. There were moments of sadness, so desperately profoundly sad that I was in awe over how Hester Fox made me feel. But, in the end, I was bolstered by how nicely the ending came together and how worthy a hero, John was for Lydia.

This is a good read if you like things a little dark and scary, but not enough to keep you awake at night.

My review will be live, on my blog, January 20, 2020, at the link provided.
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"Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it"

Give me witch trial, spooky settings, and history and I'm hooked.  Great story for your witchy readers! Book has a gothic romantic feel to it. Great book if you want a little spookiness in your life.
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This was a gorgeous, complicated, gothic beauty of a book and I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking about it for a while. I only finished it today, and already I’m looking back and recognizing additional ways in which the author inverted a lot of cliches and tropes. It was brilliant and I highly recommend, especially as an Autumn read!
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Lydia Montrose sure made an impression but at times it read like a sad lamentation of her sorry state in life. But, I am a sucker for HEA's and that is what The Witch of Willow Hall delivered.
All's well that ends well. I liked that Lydia was a good person and she would be a good witch. She didn't know she was one for certain until 80% of the way through even when she had inklings and hints of the power residing in her bones.
Her older sister Catherine was a real bitch. Wow. Lydia's relationship with her only reminded me of my relationship with my sisters. At least I could empathize and roll my eyes at both of them. Emaline, the younger sister was a doll but what bothered me was how distant and absent the parents were or maybe it only felt that way because of the way it was written from Lydia's POV. (IDK) I wasn't sure if their mother was catatonic but it sure seemed that way. I couldn't help but wonder what happened to them back in Boston that forced them to move out to the country. Their brother Charles(?) is an absolute mystery also. What happened to him? Where was he? Is he dead? I must have missed that part.
All's I know is he had to have been pretty close for Catherine to love him so much. I mean really? I was glad she lost the baby, one less thing to worry about and for Lydia to bear anyway. It is so sad that Lydia and Catherine did not like each other or could not be friends let alone sisters. I can relate though. Jealousy on the part of Catherine, for wanting what Lydia had, ruined everything. Honestly, it's a good thing Catherine was not a witch. She would have been a wicked and evil one, probably.
I loved John Barrett. He warmed my heart. Cyrus? What a nightmare.
I admit I sometimes was bored and couldn't keep my attention on the words I was reading but all in all I would read it again just as I anticipate the next book: The Widow of Pale Harbor.
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I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. 

Even though I mostly requested based on the cover for this book. I also thought the story line sounded really interesting too. Plus I'm trying to read as many spooky books as possible for this month so it was a perfect fit for me to read this one. I'm glad I got to read it too - I really liked it. There were definitely a lot of pieces of the book that I didn't care for but overall I really liked it! Lydia as a character had a lot of layers but she was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And I loved the whole journey to her discovering she was a witch and her long dead ancestor and what not but I wished that it had happened a little earlier in the book. This was definitely a good read for October - it was super spooky and creepy. I thought it was really captivating, I didn't want to put it down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. At the same time the pacing was a little slow for me. Overall I really liked the book but it wasn't my favorite. Great read for October though!
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I gave this book 4 stars but I’m not sure why. Let me tell you about my quandary. I thought this book was slow. It just seemed like it I read a lot without really getting anywhere, however I really had a hard time putting it down. I determined that the book is subtle. It just kind of sneaks up on you.

This story is reminiscent of Pride & Prejudice, with a little Jane Eyre, and some ghosts and witchiness thrown in for good measure. 

So, that’s the best I can give you. I’m as unsure about this book as this review sounds. If you are a Pride & Prejudice fan, you’ll like this book.
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My feedback here is late to the party.  I enjoyed this book, but it was relatively forgettable.  I'd recommend it to others as a quick read.
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"The Witch of Willow Hall" is the perfect read for this time of year. It's a great blend of spooky, plot, and historical events firmly rooted in fact. I especially recommend it for those interested in the history of the Salem Witch Trials..
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3AM, the witching hour! That is how long I stayed up reading this gorgeous book. And Hester Fox is officially an author on my watchlist and she should be on yours too if you enjoy sexy gothic historical romances. 
I have a very particular (or singular) taste in literature that is very hard to satisfy, so I normally have to read a few different genres and a few different books at a time in order to slake these needs. The Witch Of Willow Hall satisfied ALL my loves: it was romatic, sweet, clever, sexy and yet eerie and dark, part House on Haunted Hill and part Little Women (sorta kinda) and part something else entirely. The plot was fresh and well developed and the story threads were tied up so neatly in the end that I was thoroughly satisfied by the last bittersweet page. I never wanted it to end!
The main character, Lydia, I connected with and empathized with so well because her charcater flaw is so similar to mine and her own self doubt, which her sister knew how to use against her, was one of the biggest obstacles that sometimes frustrated me to the point I wanted to scream. And every time I felt I wanted to leap onto the pages and strangle Catharine, slap her senseless, Lydia remained calm (mostly) and behaved with integrity, bearing the burden of her sister's scandal with such quiet strength that I couldn't help but love her, even if I did want to shake her a bit now and then.
And what a scandal! This book shocked and delighted me, creeped me out, and held me under its dark spell (excuse the pun, I had to) for hours and hours and even after I was done reading, bleary-eyed and exhausted, I couldn't go to sleep because I had to digest the story and all its careful twists and misunderstandings and frustrations and delights. 
My only regret is that it took me this long to read it.
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The Witch of Willow Hall - Hester Fox

⅖ stars.

I was first intrigued by this book because it seemed to promise witchiness. Having finished (and being consequently obsessed with) the Discovery of Witches tv show, and craving more witchy books since reading that series like 3 years ago, I thought “Willow Hall” would scratch that itch. Unfortunately there wasn’t much witchiness or magic in this book at all. I think if you chose to read this, you should go into it expecting a semi-Gothic style romance drama. All magical elements took a serious backseat to other elements of the story. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the word “witch” is in the title.

Speaking of those other elements, let’s talk about them a bit more now. This story revolves around Lydia Montrose, the middle child in her family, as she and her family move to a country town following a family scandal to avoid ruining their reputation. What follows is a lot of family drama, a kind of forced instalove story, and a lot of Colonial historical descriptions of those times.

It’s all very surface. It seems like just enough was described and written to keep the story going on, but not enough to give any depth or reason to the characters. I did not believe in Lydia & John’s relationship, I thought all of the characters were caricatures and not actually fleshed out, and some ghosts were sprinkled through to make it seem more gothic and witchy.

I think I need to point out the fact that this book took me 8 months to finish. I seriously could not get into the first third of the book. And even as the plot itself finally picked, I found it very predictable, ultimately. It felt like I had read these other elements of this story in other books, so unfortunately it didn’t feel original.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for a review based upon my honest opinion.

This was a wonderful book, an honest to goodness old fashioned gothic novel.  This was the type of book I grew up reading long in to the night with a flashlight so my parents wouldn't see the light on in my room.  I really enjoyed this book.It relied on a wonderful story and misty, creepy scenery to set the backstory, not dramatic magic effects.  It was romantic and ghostly, it was heart wrenching and heart-warming.  This is a book I thought of long after I read it, it just left me satisfied, I was transported to late 1800's Massachusetts, under the willow tree.

Lydia and her family move to New Oldbury to escape a family scandal and start fresh, not long after that, our lovely Lydia discovers that she is in fact a witch.  As she tries to come to terms with her newfound abilities we are taken on a journey, one I loved.  This was a wonderful book with haunting characters and a superb storyline.
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Willow Hall lends a very gothic-y feel to this story. And 19th century Massachusetts makes a great setting for this unsettling coming of age sort of novel.
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Slow start. I had a bit of a tough time getting through this one. I did finally start to enjoy te story and loved how it ended. The author did a great job wrapping up the conclusion after the slow start. 

I wanted there to be more witchy shenanigans and magic but overall I would recommend this one as a fantastic Halloween read,
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Buckle in kiddies, Auntie Wendy is about to unload on The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox. If the title of this blog post hasn't clued you in, there is no way I can talk about this book without giving ALL the spoilers, including trigger warnings.

I cut my reading teeth on Gothics, loving mysteries and female protagonists as I do.  And while I'm happy to see more Gothic stories offered of late, for the love of all that is holy can we lay off the incest subplots?  Because this is the second Gothic I've read in the past month with incest in it.  Consider that trigger warning #1.

Lydia Montrose's family leaves Boston to settle in backwater New Oldbury in 1821 thanks to rumors surrounding her family.  Those rumors, as we find out later, involve her beyond vile older sister Catherine and their brother, Charles, having an incestuous relationship.  Spoiler alert: they did and it was consensual.  Anyway, Charles has been shipped off somewhere and if you think there's going to be a big showdown with him at some point in the story you are mistaken.  He firmly stays off the page and we never know what really happens to him other than he writes Catherine to say he's in lurve with a dancer.  Because of course he is.

Anyway, the Montrose family is made up of Lydia the middle daughter with "powers" she doesn't realize she has because her idiot mother won't tell her about them even though said "powers" run in the family.  There have been past episodes in Lydia's life (like when she hurt a bully who murdered her pet kitten - consider that trigger warning #2) but she's such a dolt she conveniently keeps blocking out the memories. Catherine is literal trash who does everything in her power over the course of the story to make Lydia's life miserable.  There's the plot moppet younger sister, Emeline, who is the very reason why the term "plot moppet" was coined - but never fear...she dies.  Consider that trigger warning #3.  But she's so freakin' annoying you'll be glad she's dead. (Yeah, I said it).  Mommy Dearest walks around in a denial-ridden depressed haze and Daddy Dearest is All Business All The Time and had the house built in New Oldbury to be a country home.  Well, now they're living in it and he's got a new business partner, John Barrett, who Lydia is smitten with, he's smitten with her but because this book is already highly annoying the conflict between them is basically one Big Misunderstanding after another because THEY JUST WON'T TALK TO EACH OTHER!

Lydia is the protagonist and is not only in denial about who she is, but she's the type of self-sacrificing heroine who will bend over backwards to "protect" those she loves.  Why she loves any of these vile people is beyond me, but she spends 99% of the book protecting Catherine from herself because, surprise!  Catherine is pregnant with their brother's child.  Consider this trigger warning #4.  So Catherine is literally throwing herself at every man with a pulse to get a proposal (not easy in New Oldbury), including John Barrett, and just being the worst sort of toxic person you can imagine.  And yet?  LYDIA KEEPS HELPING THIS SACK OF HUMAN GARBAGE!  There's a bunch of nonsense about protecting her frail mother as well - but seriously?  The woman who willfully closes her eyes to the sack of garbage one daughter is and does nothing to help her other daughter understand the "powers" she inherited?  Sorry if I fail to understand the need to protect Mommy Dearest.

If you're thinking that Catherine will eventually see the error of her ways or that Lydia will grow a spine - let me assure you: they do not.  Catherine goes on to miscarry the baby (consider that trigger warning #5) and begs Lydia to "take care of it" - which she does.  Then Catherine recalls a previous moment with Lydia offered her tea - only to act strangely and spill it on the carpet before Catherine can take a sip.  Yes, Lydia concocted a tea with herbs that can "take care of such things" but chickened out at the last minute.  Catherine then thinks that Lydia murdered her precious love child, which she conceived WITH THEIR BROTHER (!!!!) and ramps up her campaign to make Lydia's life miserable.  And Lydia continues to ineffectually wring her hands from the sidelines.

Look, I get it.  It's 1821.  Women didn't have a lot of agency.  But what women could and did do was find ways to manipulate the societal mores of the time to get where they wanted/needed to go.  Lydia is nothing more than a reactionary heroine who refuses to take proactive action towards making her own life better.  Instead she coddles a plot moppet younger sister and distant mother, cleans up messes left behind by her VILE older sister, and pines after John Barrett. Then to have her willfully ignore the unexplained episodes in her life (her "powers") is just...OMG, can she just die already?  Because I can't.

Since I've already spoiled everything, why not the ending?  Lydia and John do end up together.  The villain (no, not brother Charles or Catherine - it's Lydia's former fiance' and Daddy's former business partner's son!) is vanquished, and Catherine leaves the country to take her vile act on the road but that's OK because Lydia muses that she hopes her sister finds happiness (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  And Charles, the brother who likes to have sex with his own sister and leave her to deal with consequences?  Well we don't ever find out since he never appears on page but my guess is he probably married the dancer and is living his best life - because nobody else gets what they truly deserve in this book, so why would he?

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Final Grade = D-
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This had such a great witch feel to it. I enjoyed the history of Montrose family. The supernatural happenings added to the eerieness. I enjoyed this so much.
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Thank you to Netgalley for giving me a chance to read and review, "The Witch of Willow Hall"
by Hester Fox. A very interesting work of Women's Fiction/ Mystery! I enjoyed this book well enough. A perfect Halloween read.
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Main Character: Lydia Montrose (4/5)—a strong, driven character, determined to find a way for everything to work out, even if it means cementing her own heartbreak.

Secondary Characters: Enjoyably and disturbingly realistic, especially the Montrose girls’ suitors. The Montroses have a classic family dynamic that would fit just as easily into modern times as the book’s setting. 

Pacing: The pacing of this book was comfortably quick without feeling rushed. I eventually reached a point when I couldn’t put it down, and that’s the tell-tale sign of a good read.

Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: Definitely an accurate description, but I felt it could have been a bit more straightforward with the types of paranormal occurrences you’ll encounter, like ghosts.

Resolution: I felt like the underlying mysterious quality of the plot got a bit lost toward the end, when Lydia and John’s romance came into full bloom and eclipsed some of the novel’s previous eeriness. The ending was not as dramatic as I would have liked, but still satisfying. 

The Good: The plot was rife with drama and intrigue from the first few pages. The paranormal touches in the novel were perfectly placed, satisfyingly creepy, and integral to the development of the plot. Just when you think you have it all straight in your head, the author throws another well-timed monkey wrench into the action. This book touches on all of the classic tropes that make so many classics successful: quarreling siblings, oblivious parents, family secrets, and forbidden love, to name a few. I identified well with Lydia and wasn’t ridiculously ahead of her in unweaving the web the author created, as I often am with other novels. I lived her heartbreak, her hope, her shock, and even more as though it were all my own, and I greatly enjoyed the ride.

The Not So Good: I knew there was some hush-hush secret that the Montroses were harboring, but…wow, I didn’t see one like that coming. Had I known just how twisted (and disturbingly true!) the rumors were, I’m not sure I would’ve signed up to read this one. But given how much I enjoyed the rest of the book, I’m glad I wasn’t fully enlightened beforehand, so I could give this book a chance.

I knew from the start that Catherine was trouble, but I didn’t know how right I was until she laid all of her secrets bare, rather smugly. The atrocities she commits, both before and after the novel starts, are beyond my understanding; however, they help her become the best foil character possible against Lydia. Something that struck me as odd was that we’re supposed to know Lydia is a witch, in spite of very few tell-tale displays of her power and no one actually proposing the idea (including Lydia herself) until the last third of the novel. The title of the book may include the word “witch”, but I found this novel lacking in the level of witchiness I expected.

Overall Impression: Despite a couple of disquieting plot points, this book served up surprise after heart-pounding surprise in a way that I’ve rarely seen outside of my college English courses. Overall, I’m quite impressed by not only Mrs. Fox’s quality of writing, but that this book was somehow not mainstream. 

Would I recommend it?
With only the slightest hesitation, due to some of the themes addressed, I most likely would. In fact, I already have! I see that Mrs. Fox has another book expected later this year, and I’m awaiting it with bated breath!
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