Cover Image: The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall

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Member Reviews

This book is well written and gripping with excellent character development. Hester Fox blends history, suspense, mystery, magic, and romance seamlessly in her debut novel, adding her own twists to the Gothic genre. I can't wait to read her next book..
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I was surprised how much of a page turner this book wound up being for me. The different twists and turns throughout made it so I was swiping desperating on my ereader to see what happened next! Gothic romance is definitely the best description I've seen for this dark story, and I love how the witchcraft/magic aspect isn't overdone and seems so natural for the setting. Definitely recommending it to my teens that love historical fiction.
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Happy Dancing! If I could rate this book higher than 5 stars, I would. There is dark mystery, there is a beautiful setting with the dark underbelly, there are ghosts, jealousy and true love. I loved it so much that I'm looking forward to reading it a second time! My only regret was that I didn't have enough time to read it in one day. Darn those things like sleeping and working. 😉
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Great story! Lydia was a wonderful character, dutiful daughter, protecttive sister, young woman in love reluctant heroine.  So much preassure on her to be the perfect daughter, mostly from herself. Trying to save the world is a lot of work.  Plus, happy ending.  Thanks for an actual ending!
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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is a mix of genres:  paranormal, romance, coming of age, and historical fiction. The title might lead you to believe that the book is all about witches and witchcraft when in actuality it isn’t.  There is lots of good stuff going on and none of it related to witchcraft. 
The main character Lydia Montrose, along with her parents and two sisters, are forced to flee Boston after a scandal involving her older sister Catherine. To escape the rumors they retreat to their summer home of Willow Hall in the small rural town of New Oldburg, MA. 
Once they arrive, Lydia finds the house unsettling. She sees and hears things others in her family do not. She thinks she saw a woman walking in the garden in the middle of the night yet when she investigates no one is there. Then she receives a message written on her mirror that only she can see. All of these worrisome events have made it difficult for her to settle in at Willow Hall. 
The one bright point is John Barrett, her father’s young business partner, and the former owner of the land on which Willow Hall now sits. Lydia is immediately attracted to Mr. Barrett but Catherine also has her eyes on him.  Mr. Barrett is invited to dine with the family and shows up with a friend August Pierce. Catherine immediately forgets Mr. Barrett leaving Lydia to think she might have a chance with him.
Lydia has a lot of self-doubt to overcome. She has always lived in Catherine’s shadow and found her escape in books and her love for her younger sister Emeline. Yet the secrets that surround her maybe her undoing, for Catherine is keeping dark secrets that could ruin everyone, even the house has secrets. But the biggest secret lies within Lydia. She will have to uncover them all before she is able to shield and defend her family.
Had I not known going in this was the author’s debut novel, I would never have guessed it because the book is so well written. The characters are well developed and the plot moves along nicely with an excellent subplot to assist the story’s progression. 
A couple of things stood out for me about this book. First the prose is above par. The author has that rare talent of describing a scene so you can see it in your mind’s eye and yet the description does not go overboard and bore the reader. Second is character development.  Loved how I was so drawn to Lydia and how I hated Catherine. You know an author has done their job when she/he elicits these types of emotions from the reader.   
I just read Kate Morton’s latest book The Clockmaker’s Daughter and this book is reminiscent of her style. Therefore, I highly recommend The Witch of Willow Hall if you are a fan of Kate Morton. I also think fans of historical fiction and witchy tales will like this too. 
I received an ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This book drew me in from the first with the setting - a creepy gothic mansion that seemed positively crawling with the supernatural. It was written in first person present, which is a style I don't always jive with, and would have perhaps liked this one more had it been written in a different style. I found some of the characters - Emmeline,  Catherine, the mother - to be interesting, and would have liked to follow them more, but Lydia I didn't care for much, and I didn't enjoy her romance either, which is a bit sticking point for me. 
All in all, it was a decent book, but not great.
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I truly enjoyed this book. It is reminiscent of traditional literature but easier to read. I was instantly drawn in by the scandalous incident and enjoyed how it gradually unfolds. The pacing never got dull and I was satisfied with the ending.
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I read this  last night in a fit of insomnia (as one does) and I'm pretty sure it made my sleep worse. Why? I HAD TO FINISH IT. It was really good. Honestly, I expected it to be a quick read with a predictable plot line. It wasn't. It had depth, sadness, triumph, heartbreak. I really loved it. I would have liked some more explanations on the family's background, but I still got by just fine without it and really loved it.
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I don’t actually remember requesting this and, when I saw what looked like a historical romance on my “to read” self, I wondered why I would do that.   But I thought, “What the heck! Branch out.  It will make you a better person.”  

Then I spent the first few chapters doubting if I had made the right choice.  All the tropes were there. A bookish heroine? A conniving sister? A looming family scandal? Some handsome, eligible bachelors? Check, check, check, aaaaaand check.  But suddenly, things took a really dark turn.  And then they took a darker turn.  As the story spiraled into gothic territory, I thought, “Wait.  Is this actually brilliant?  Has the author lulled me into a false sense of security only to pull the rug out from under me with the most enthralling and scary mystery I have read lately?” 

The answer is yes.  

Lydia is not hoping for much in life.  Her fiancé dropped her when the threat of scandal forced her family to flee their Boston home.  It was an arranged match anyway, so she resolves to make the best of things and to devote her time to keeping her wild older sister Catherine in check to relieve their already stressed mother of the task. But from the moment of their arrival at Willow Hall, something has seemed… off about the place.  Lydia begins to have disturbing dreams and her sweet younger sister Emeline begins to say strange things.  To make life even more complicated, Catherine begins to throw herself at handsome neighbor Mr. Barrett (who also happens to be her father’s business partner) AND his friend Mr. Pierce. As the reasons for the sisters’ behavior begin to surface, Lydia must face tragedy and frightening truths about herself if she hopes to save those she loves. That’s about all I can say without giving too much away, so I recommend you get a copy to find out more!
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It's the early 1800s, and in Hester Fox's debut novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, Lydia Montrose is beginning to realize she has special powers. She and her family have left Boston to escape a scandal and settled in a house known as Willow Hall. Although it's lovely, it's also haunted, and soon Lydia experiences strange, inexplicable things. 

This is an enjoyable read with a few shivers, and I think fans of historical fiction and young adults will like it. It's well-written, although I wish some of the characters had been more fully developed. Some of them felt like fictional types I'd encountered before, especially when romance came into the story. (I'd rather have had more Gothic elements and less romance.) Also, some of the dialogue bumped me out of the historical setting, as when a character says, "I lost my cool." 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a review copy of the book.
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Forced to leave Boston for their country estate of Willow Hall, Lydia Montrose and her family are in crisis. The scandals that ran them out of Boston society didn’t stay in Boston as perhaps some hoped, but followed them to the country.  Of course, changing location never really changes people who have no intention of it – and Lydia sees that quite clearly as her sister Catherine is even more tied to her selfishness, her mother is more invested in ‘how we do things’ for public consumption than ever, and Lydia, the peacemaker and in the constant line of fire to mediate family tensions is slowly and surely starting to bend under the weight of her family dysfunction.  There is a legend that surrounds Willow Hall, and things that go bump in the night, and when Lydia comes to see a long-buried connection to the now-famed witch trials, her own dormant and unknown talents are stirred.  

This is not a story about a witch casting her spell, but one of scandal that then pushes all of the skeletons out of the family closet. It is a story of relationships and characters, some developing, some stagnating in their old patterns that worked so well for them in the past. The real growth here comes from Lydia and her recognition of just how dysfunctional her family actually is, and what she has done, and continues to do, to hold the family ‘together’ in one form or another.  With the addition of a romantic interest for her, and her sister Catherine’s ongoing need to ‘win’ in every situation, the brooding yet kind John Barrett actually notices Lydia, long the unnoticed one in the family, and their interactions stir and strengthen her own sense of value and ability.  An interesting connection that plays on his secrets, Lydia’s uncovering of family secrets, her own new awareness of something “other’ within her and the gradual fracturing of the ties that bind this family together as more is revealed, the story is a slow-to-develop yet always intriguing series of moments as light is shown into corners and the secrets that hide like shadows come to light.  

I’ve seen comparisons to Wuthering Heights and others in that same gothic vein, but for me, this was ultimately a truly tragic tale of a family being attacked by its own secrets, as it clutches desperately to appearances and trying, unsuccessfully, to push the jam back into the jar.  Outstanding for the deft characterization of Lydia, who spends most of the time trying to play middleman and soother for the family, and her realization that she is so much more, and needs not be defined by the boxes in which her family has placed her. Gothic in feel and tone, characters that feel real and plausible, and a solid nod to the history of New England and its often troubled relationship with witchcraft and the spectre of the trials from the 1600’s, this is a debut that is both intriguing and well-crafted, and while not overloaded with supernatural or witchcraft elements, the layers and threads all tie together in a lovely package. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at   I am, Indeed 
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At first, this seemed captivating. I made it 18% through before deciding I was done, and I do feel some guilt.

However, I am looking for an historically correct gothic novel, not a romance novel thrown into a random time period with very little research into that period.

I was wondering why it was so "readable", and all the 5-star reviews are a clue. This is a modern YA romance novel with an historic witchcraft cliche and a great cover set to release just in time for Halloween.

My unease was pricking and seriously set in at the main character's use of the word "automatically" . I looked up the word and it turns out its origins are 1740-1750, so I guess it could've been in use by 1811, but it isn't a word I've typically seen used in historical novels.

So I was all set to go back in for another try when I found a lower-rated review who mentioned a character later on as "losing their cool."

So, it's NOT just me. That's an anachronism, my friends, and maybe it can be pulled off in books incorporating time travel but otherwise, the chicks in this book might as well be wearing booty shorts and tank tops. Because no way in hell would they have been traipsing around with their father's business partners in 1811 without a chaperone, I don't care how far down the social ladder they'd been flung nor how far out to the boonies they'd been cast. 

I'm sorry, the fall season is just too short and there are just too many real gothic, really creepy reads out there for me to continue with this one.

With a name like Hester Fox, I was expecting the author to deliver some great gothic work. Go check out The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe to see how this is really done.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I realize from the overwhelming 5-star reviews I'm in the minority here, but this is my own opinion.
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I enjoyed reading this book, I did not love reading this book. The story is of a family that had to leave Boston due to their oldest daughter's action. The family settles into their new home but not all is right, there is something about Willow Hall that is unsettling. the story was a bit slow at times. i understand that the story takes place i  the 1800s but the too much time was spent on shopping and food. I wish the author sent more time on witch aspect of the story.
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[Review will be posted on Reader Voracious Blog on 9/20/18.]

"There are stories around here that the place is haunted. All manners of ghosties and goblins."
This book wasn't what I was expecting but I found myself devouring the pages in one morning nonetheless. If I were to categorize this book it is first and foremost a historical romance; it felt like reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights with supernatural/witchy elements. This is a successful historical fiction book, but unfortunately I found the witch plotline underdeveloped and secondary to the romance. 

The Montrose family has all but been run out of Boston due to rumors, but it is not until well into the book that the reader learns what happened. Lydia did something as a child; however, what ran them out of Boston was not the incident with the Bishop boy but something that her twenty-one year old sister Catherine did. The Montrose family loses their status and items, having to move to the country. 

Witch of Willow Hall is honestly about the family's relocation, their struggles with their new status, interpersonal conflicts, and romance. The sisterly relationship between Emeline and Lydia warmed my heart and actually reminded me a lot of Little Women in a lot of respects. Fox was able to craft a compelling plot-driven story that felt very much like books written of this period, making for an immersive experience. Unfortunately, other than Lydia Montrose (our MC), John Barrett, and Emeline Montrose all of the characters are pretty much horrible. Catherine Montrose is awful, Cyrus Thompson is terrible and his actions make no sense, 

There's a lot of tings happening in this book, and unfortunately for me it didn't really gel 100%. The book opens by saying “It was the Bishop boy who started it all…” yet none of that really felt connected until the end of the book, and the supernatural/witchy plot didn't really start to surface until 50% in and I was honestly left wanting a lot more. 

Overall I found this to be a decent book that I enjoyed, but I was hoping for more. If you go into this book thinking that there will be witchcraft you will be disappointed. I would recommend this book to lovers of the historical romance genre, particularly if you enjoy the cattiness and competition between women of a marrying age. 

CONTENT WARNINGS: animal death, incest, miscarriage

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.
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This book peaked my interest based on the description and title! Though I am giving it three stars, I did enjoy this book! 

I enjoyed Lydia’s character, the setting and the premise of this book! I felt the plot had major potential and had some fantastic moments. 

The only thing that I struggled with at times was the pacing. Some of it dragged on a bit too much, but I still enjoyed this book!
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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is a wickedly-perfect blend of the historical and the supernatural. If you’re looking for a suspenseful read filled with terrific gothic atmosphere and dark twists, then this is a great Fall time read to escape to. 

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

The story opens with the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—fleeing Boston, in the wake of a threatening scandal, for their new country home, Willow Hall. But, not everything is as it seems at the estate. A chilling presence haunts the grounds while the dark history of Willow Hall threatens to engulf the sisters in an unstoppable tragedy that only Lydia has the power to stop.

One of the standout features of the story is the authentic-feeling the setting of Willow Hall and its surroundings. 

Taking inspiration from by her time spent as an intern at the real historic New England home, Barrett House, the author infuses the setting of the story with vivid details. Painting a picture of an idyllic estate haunted by its past. I found myself transported to Willow Hall and its gothic details which adds the perfect touch of sinister mystery.

I love books that feature a strong sistership and this story captures the essence of family bonds. 
Told through Lydia's voice, the writing presents perfectly their sisterly relationship with all their ups-and-downs. The scandal that is hinted at the beginning of the book is slowly revealed keeping readers guessing as to which sister is involved.

Lydia comes across as a sensible young woman yet there is an underlying edge to her that seems to be attracted to an unknown force that is present at Willow Hal—what that force is and how it's connected to the handsome John Barrett will keep readers on edge. A touch of romance is threaded throughout the story but I would have loved something a bit more fleshed out with our dark hero.

A touch of witchery and the supernatural infuse this story.

The sinister presence, a surprisingly helpful ghost, and tragedy all stalk the sisters, leaving readers grasping for clues all the while the author twists and thrills us. I was impressed by this debut. The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is an exciting new voice to watch for.
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This is a good first novel by Hester Fox.  It is a little too historic and gothic for my personal reading taste but I think fans of this genre will love it. When their family flees Boston to Willow Hall the daughters become involved with some strange happenings.  Set in the early 1800 and deals with witchcraft and magic.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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this book really surprised me. this particular brand of fiction isn't usually in my wheelhouse, but a good publicist and the dramatic presentation of the ARC, which came in the mail in a black mesh bag, got me interested.

it's beautiful. dark, well plotted and mysterious. i don't like slow burning novels, but this one was able to tease out intricate plot points without dragging them out. the balance of humor, horror, tragedy and romance was perfect.

Hester Fox accomplished quite a feat with this novel, and i'm eagerly waiting to see what she does next.
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The Witch from Willow Hall is has an interesting story line with several twists. An enjoyable read for an older audience.
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This book was a miss for me. I just couldn't get interested in the story. It fell flat. The subject of witches has always interested me and I like he setting and time frame, I just couldn't immerse myself in the dialogue.
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